Sustaining Easter

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,
and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
disregarding its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NRSV)

As most of you know it happened a little earlier than anticipated this year. Yes Easter was early in the calendar year, but so was my after-Easter illness. Often in the hours and days following Easter, pastors and other church leaders, choir members, and the like suffer an emotional decompression, if not an outright physical illness. With all the pressure and buildup leading to this one day, when it is finally over, we can be left wandering like the disciples between the crucifixion and the resurrection.

It happens around Easter and Christmas almost every year, so I’ve come to anticipate it. But when I started feeling ill on Saturday evening, I knew it would be a long day. I am thankful for your many prayers and words of encouragement. And I am thankful that I was able to go home after worship and rest. The break was much-needed for both my body and my mind.

Unfortunately I needed another day to recover, so I took Monday as a day of rest as well. Then, on Tuesday it was back to the business of getting things accomplished that need to be accomplished. I guess it was a day and a half Sabbath on the heels of Easter’s celebration.

I don’t know if it was that time to renew my energy, or God’s voice prompting me, but I’ve been thinking a lot about something I said a few years ago, and thought again this year as I looked out across the sanctuary, “I wish every week could be like Easter.”

Really? Do I really want that? Do we really want that as a community of faith?

Sure, the fullness of church on Easter morning is inspiring. Certainly, the music and prayers and story are powerful and moving. Definitely the call to renewal and restoration is something we would do well to hear each week, hourly, and daily.

But, can we put in the work and energy that it takes to make Easter “happen,” each week? Are we willing to devote that much of ourselves to church, to worship, even to God?

I don’t think we can sustain that level of energy 52 weeks a year. To me that would seem a perfect recipe for the dreaded “burn-out.”

So, then what? Easter was WONDERFUL!  What happens next week?  How do we maintain the joy of Easter over the long-haul? The life of faith is not a sprint to the finish, but rather a race that rewards those who run mile, after mile, after mile…

I, for one, am thankful to be running the race with you. Both “you” in the individual sense of the word, and “you” in the collective sense. I am truly glad that each one of you, and all of you, are part of my life. You make my days so rich and full of blessings, and you support me with your prayers when I am struggling physically, mentally, or emotionally. Thank you, for helping make the renewal of Easter a reality in my life this week, and every week.

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