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Preparing our hearts for Easter

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Easter is Sunday. It is likely that most churches around the world will not gather. In light of this reality I find myself wrestling with how to prepare my heart for Easter 2020. Perhaps you have found yourself in similar straits, as life has been newly cast in the shadow of a pandemic. But as I wrestled, it struck me to consider how God is preparing my heart for the celebration of Jesus’ victory over the grave.

            The entire world has in a matter of a few months been reminded of the frailty of life and the certainty of death. Of course, we know that life is frail, and death comes to all, yet in the bright days of vigor and prosperity we forget. Too easily we fall prey to the hope that human ingenuity secures the path to wellness, to wealth, to wellbeing. “Salvation belongs to man” is the cry of the unbelieving world with unrelenting confidence in all of our scientific and technological advancement. And then, comes a sickness we cannot stop, and we are beckoned to inquire if there is some other remedy for the gripping fear of death that we all live with.

This is a good place to be. Let me say it again, this is a good place to be. Isn’t this exactly where God tells us to be? Consider a few passages that call us to grapple with the brevity of life and certainty of death. 

1 “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. 2 He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not. (Job 14:1–2)

4 “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! 5Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah 6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! (Psalm 39:4–6)

            Both the psalmist and Job offer pointed words to us of the human experience. Job declares human life as short and strenuous. The psalmist asks that he would not fall under the allusion that he possesses power over his own life. He desires to know life as the fleeting breath that it is, that all of life’s bounty gives no lasting security. Both Job and the psalmist are thoroughly acquainted with the pervasive presence of sin’s curse, “by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken…” (Gen 3:19). Difficulty and death form the rhythm of this fallen world. Sin’s toll is felt even in the modern age of unrivaled human accomplishment.

            Take a moment now to consider in the shadow of disease and death, that these are only symptoms of a far greater problem. Human rebellion. Willful idolatry. Sin. This is the heart of the issue behind life’s futility and death’s certainty. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom 5:12). Yes, this is exactly the way God would prepare us for Easter, by calling us to contemplate the wreckage of the world on account of sin. So, I invite you to consider the harm and hurt of sin. We must know this truly and deeply before we are ever to rejoice in sin’s remedy.

Posted by Phil Broersma with

Why It Uniquely Hurts To Not Have Church This Week

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Brothers and sisters, missing church on Resurrection Sunday hurts. It has already been painful not to have church for a few Sundays in a row now, but no church on Easter Sunday simply hurts. What makes Easter Sunday unique? Well, to be short, if there was no Easter Sunday then there would not be weekly Sunday gathering at all (Lk 24:1, 6-7). Easter, or Resurrection Sunday is the day we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its annual remembrance. Sure, every Sunday is a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection; every Lord’s Day is a statement that our Lord and Savior is risen. Yet, it is Resurrection Sunday that we often slow down to remember, contemplate and celebrate this amazing reality in a heighted way.

 

Resurrection Sunday is not only a day that Christians celebrate Jesus’ accomplishments on our behalf; It is also a day that we proclaim the good news His death, burial and resurrection brings—the forgiveness of sin (Act 2:38). We proclaim this truth not just to ourselves, but to the many who enter our doors on this blessed day. You see, Resurrection Sunday often brings people who are not Christians into our midst, because even they understand there is something special, meaningful and unique about this Sunday. My friends it hurts to miss the opportunity to proclaim the good news we possess both to each other and to the lost.

 

Moreover, Resurrection Sunday is a day we live the gospel. Because of the heightened celebration and proclamation that Easter brings, we remind ourselves and one another to further invest in our response of faith and repentance to our beloved Lord whom we celebrate. In fact, the pinnacle of our celebration, enjoyment, even worship is our response of faith and repentance—our living response to the gospel.

 

But make no mistake, though there will not be church this coming Sunday, we will still celebrate Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection; we will still proclaim the gospel; we will still live out our response to that good news! We simply will not be doing it as a congregation and that reality hurts, it hurts deeply.

 

So, what are we to do with our mourning of such a loss? We are to let it hurt. We must not ease our longing with thoughts of a livestream, rather we must long to be together again. We must long to sit together under the teaching of God’s word; we must long to partake of the Lord’s table once again; we must long to see each other face to face as we celebrate the resurrection, proclaim its impact and live in response to it.

 

Please do not misunderstand. I appreciate the livestream and value it highly, even as I have watched it weekly. But a livestream is not church and cannot replace the local assembly. I am simply recognizing the hurt that rightfully comes with such a loss. I am recognizing the hurt, so that we would let the hurt drive us to prayer, bring us to stronger commitments and instill in us a greater appreciation for that gathering which we greatly miss. Friends, the degree to which this loss hurts us directly correlates to the degree we value gathering together as a church—Oh how it should hurt even beyond the present pain!

 

I long to once again see your faces when we gather to celebrate, to proclaim and to live that wonderful gospel truth—He is risen, He is risen Indeed! Nothing will change this truth, not even the absence of a corporate gathering. What a joy in the midst of the greatest sorrows!

Posted by Trey Meester with