There are normally two “spirits” floating around in our churches: the Christmas spirit and the Easter spirit! Christmas covers the world with love. We’re kind to almost everyone and give gifts to people we sometimes don’t appreciate as we should at other times, such as the mail carrier and the sanitation workers. And even those who don’t support their churches too well are drawn to Christmas Eve or Christmas Day worship.
The same is true for Easter, at least for the Christian community. It’s the high point of the liturgical year. Easter worship doesn’t have to be elaborate since worshipers are excited and joyful. Would that we had this same attitude year-round!
The early church had the Easter spirit. The church was made up of former Jewish worshipers accustomed to biblical teachings about the Sabbath. But Christians moved their worship day to Sunday to commemorate the resurrection. Eight times the church is described as worshiping in the book of Acts, and each time was on the first day of the week rather than the seventh. Every worship day was a reminder of the resurrection.
I think we can continue with the Easter spirit if we commit to several things.
First, we make the resurrection of Jesus the foundation of our lives and teaching. If he weren’t raised, our teaching and preaching would be like teaching Shakespeare. We study Shakespeare for the intricate plots he wove and his masterful character development. But we don’t study Shakespeare in order to change lives. We don’t commit to following Shakespeare like we commit to following Jesus. We believe our living Savior summons us to follow him in a life of holiness, and we walk in partnership with him.
Second, we share the same mission given the first believers. The task given them seemed impossible. They were to saturate their world with the gospel message. This was in a day without modern transportation or modern communication. But the first disciples took this task seriously and we profit today because they were faithful to take the redemption message to the world.
Third, we must be committed to serving Christ, even in days of difficulty. None of us have faced the trials the church faced in the first century. Emperor Nero instigated the first widespread persecution of the church, blaming peaceful and gentle Christians for burning Rome. Christians were arrested, imprisoned and many thrown into the Colosseum to face gladiators or wild beasts.
Their dedication to the Lord puts mine to shame. But we must commit to the Lordship of Christ in every area of our lives in order to live out the true spirit of Easter. We must be faithful until the day of our resurrection.