by Dale Reeves
This past Sunday at Christ’s Church we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ as he conquered sin and the grave. What a wonderful time of worship and praise it was as we gathered together as a community of faith on this, our “Super Bowl” Sunday, as many pastors have called it. For some families, it was the first time they have been together in the church building in quite a long while. I heard many positive comments from people about how exciting the worship experience was in a room full of exuberant worshipers. Our “Church at the Bar” campus enjoyed a marvelous celebration of Christ’s resurrection as well, including quite a nice spread of breakfast foods.
What now? Many churches experience a bit of a letdown in attendance the week after Easter, as the weather turns warmer and families get back to their routines of ball games, outside activities, and other outings—and as they turn their thoughts toward upcoming graduations, followed by summer vacations. For some churchgoers, church attendance will take a back seat to other activities over the next several months. One of the benefits of our online presence these days is that for those folks who will not make it to the church building on Sunday, they can still catch the worship experience here any time they desire [online link to worship experience].
Commissioned to Go
After Jesus resurrected from the tomb, he appeared to more than 500 of his followers over the span of forty days (1 Corinthians 15:6). The Bible tells us that after that time, he met his disciples in Bethany on the Mount of Olives where he commissioned them to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. After speaking with them, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. Luke records this detail for us in the book of Acts: “As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!’” (Acts 1:10, 11, NLT).
As the disciples walked back down the mountain, can’t you imagine them looking at each another, perhaps shrugging their shoulders with wide-eyed expressions, and asking, “Now what? Where do we start? What do we do first?” The two angelic warriors had asked them why they were just standing there staring into the sky. No doubt the scene that had just unfolded before them left them in a state of bewilderment. You think they were dealing with some confusion, doubt, fear, and trepidation? I imagine that Simon Peter, always the impetuous one, replied, “Didn’t you boys hear what Jesus said? We need to get busy . . . now . . . immediately!” Peter wanted to waste no time in getting after it, as I’m sure the sound of a rooster crowing was still echoing in his ears.
The New Testament Greek word translated “immediately” is eutheos, which can also be translated, “at once,” or “straightway.” This word is used 81 times in the New Testament in such places as when Peter, Andrew, James, and John left their fishing business to follow after Jesus and become fishers of men (Matthew 4:20, 22); when Jesus healed a man of leprosy and he was cured immediately (Matthew 8:3); when Jesus healed the two blind men who sat by the roadside at Jericho (Matthew 20:34); and many other occurrences.
Immediately. Straightway. Without delay. Pronto. ASAP.
Empowered to Serve
Back to our story today. It’s the weekend after Easter Sunday. What do we do now? I would echo the last words that Jesus uttered to his disciples. The Message paraphrase renders his message like this: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, The Message).
He tells us to simply go—there’s a lot of work yet to be done. He promises to be with us as we go about this work. Have you ever known that God has called you to do a job, but you were unsure of your ability to do it? Join the club. Today, I am grateful for the many servants of Christ in our church who have said, “I’m in. Pick me, God. Use me, God.”
Last night at our Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, we expressed our gratitude to over 120 folks who are the hands and feet of Jesus around here. They hold doors for others to come into our church building and into the worship experience. They greet families who are coming to Christ’s Church for the first time. They arrive very early on Sunday mornings and prepare lots of coffee for everyone coming to church who needs an early morning pick-me-up. They pass out communion cups. They serve at our Church at the Bar campus. They host our online chat during worship services. They lead us in praise and worship before the throne of God as they skillfully play instruments and blend their voices in perfect harmony. They run the lighting, the images projected on the large screen, the sound, and the cameras. They change diapers, wipe preschoolers’ noses, referee as necessary in children’s classes, and love on our middle school and high school teens. They lead out in Bible studies, community groups, various service groups, and community outreach events. We could not do what God has called us to do in this place without these willing servants.
All of our volunteers are part of the answer to “Now what?” Would you join them in saying, “Here I am, God. Use me however you see fit!”? His resurrection power can live in us through the Holy Spirit, and he will equip us to do what he has now called us to do on the other side of Easter.
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11, ESV).