Easter is always an interesting time for regular church-goers. It is the one time of year that most services swell in numbers and pastors respond by preaching sermons aimed at captivating newcomers. For those who attend regularly, it can be fascinating to see how their own church makes use of this unique opportunity.
This year, I heard one of the most creative and thought-provoking Easter sermons ever. It was entitled “Flash Forward,” and it was interesting because it quickly moved beyond the traditional retelling of the resurrection story to highlight an event that early Christians focused on passionately, both as part of their Easter celebrations and in their traditional weekly worship. That topic was Christ’s return.
Although the crucifixion and resurrection are definitely integral to our faith, so is the amazing promise that both of these events herald. In fact, at the very heart of salvation is this assurance of Christ’s eventual return and the supernatural renewal it will bring to both our world and to each of us as individuals.
One of the scripture passages the preacher used was from Matthew 24, in which Jesus explains many things about his return, including this:
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
Therefore, keep watch. What does that mean? Certainly, it is a call to stay focused on God and to remain focused on doing the will of the Lord. At Cross, we believe it also means being in God’s service every day – in our case, serving the poor in Christ’s name and for his glory.
As we reflect on Easter for both its gift of saving grace and for its message of hope in our Lord’s eventually return, we can feel great joy. We can know both the peace of our salvation and excitement for the future – not just at Easter time, but each and every day!