How do you plan to spend today?
In an essentially post-Christian America, the response to that question could range from spending time with the family to playing golf to grilling out to watching the NBA playoffs. Nothing is wrong with any of those things, but there was a time when even those who weren’t believers understood the significance of including church as part of their plans on this day, at least for a few hours.
Today, many of us are just as likely to leave home headed to a bowling alley or a movie theater as we are to church.
What makes this day special? I’m glad you asked.
Some 2,000 years ago, a man who was born of a virgin, who healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, walked on water and calmed the storm, was executed after being accused of blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God.
That man, Jesus, was brutally beaten, crucified, and then buried. But three days later, he walked out of the grave with eternal life and power and hope for all who believe, turn from sin, and follow him.
And it changed everything.
Because Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday, converted Jews began worshipping on Sunday (the Lord’s day) instead of only worshipping on Saturday (the traditional Sabbath).
The resurrection was so significant that history was universally recognized as having two iterations — the time before Jesus was born (BC - Before Christ) and the time after Jesus was born (AD - Anno Domini, the year of our Lord).
But political correctness years ago changed BC to BCE, and schools today teach our children that it means “Before the Common Era,” whatever that means. Like I said … we’re a post-Christian society.
This past week, we watched in anguish as flames ignored the sacredness of the Notre Dame Cathedral in France and threatened to devour the ancient and holy edifice. The response from around the world was almost unanimous. Dismay and heartbreak descended like rain; tears and money flowed like water. Donations to rebuild have already topped $1 billion.
If only we had as much passion and heartache over the culture’s diminishing respect toward the Jesus for whom that structure was erected.
I remember parents getting their kids new suits and dresses just to wear to church on this day. We’d wait inside the church after service while adults hid dyed hard-boiled eggs for us kids to go outside and find.
There were chocolate bunnies and hard candy that filled elaborate baskets lined with fake tinsel-like grass that would end up all over the place.
And people would come to church who hadn’t been to church since this same day last year because they knew it was a big deal that a man died and rose again.
Today I’ll preach a sermon that tries to honor the biblical account of the righteous life, the sacrificial death and the victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.
There won’t be any chocolate bunnies at our church. There will be no hunting for colorful eggs, and we won’t pass out stuffed baskets with fake grass that gets all over everything. Not because I believe those things are sacrilegious, but because, well ... hasn’t the resurrection already been diminished enough?
After church, my family and I will probably go out to eat and maybe even try to catch a matinee to see the new Christian movie “Breakthrough.”
And in the background of it all, we’ll continue to reflect on the greatest event in history — a Jewish carpenter who claimed to be God proved it by rising from the dead.
Anthony Cook is executive editor of Consolidated Publishing and pastor at Christian Fellowship Bible Church in Anniston. firstname.lastname@example.org.