Yesterday morning I drove to First Presbyterian Church of Lakeland, where I’d been invited to speak to the large (combined) adult education class that has been studying REACHING TOWARD EASTER</em> for the past eight weeks.
With Easter Sunday already in the rear-view mirror, this event officially put the wraps on what has been one of the most successful projects I’ve been involved with since my first book (GET REAL: a spiritual journey for men) was released in 2007.
So this morning I’m posting a few of the thoughts I shared with the enthusiastic Lakeland crowd. What I did, essentially, was to answer the questions I had posed in the study guide.
Each answer had a slide to go with it, so I’ll include some of those in this post:
The first slide – above – has to do with experiencing Easter as a beginning rather than a conclusion. I said that my journey through Lent was a lot like climbing the mountain in the long hours before dawn. Being deliberate about my observance of Lent necessarily involved discipline, and was often as welcome as mounting a camel in the pitch darkness at 2:00 AM! The result, however, was to experience the stunning sunrise of Easter morning in a place I never could have been (spiritually) if I hadn’t put in the legwork to first climb the mountain.
So What? Another slide, the spectacular mountain view to the right, illustrated my answer to the “So What?” question. I climbed Mt. Sinai for the purpose of watching the sun rise, just as my Lenten journey was all about Easter Sunday. Then it turned out – serendipity – that the view on the way down the mountain was more amazing that I could possibly have anticipated.
Likewise, my focus was on Jesus and on resurrection. But, just a few days into this “Second Week of Creation,” it’s apparent to me that the defeat of death is only the beginning. Easter morning simply sets the stage for what is to come. Christ opened a door, and now it’s up to us to decide “Do we stand around gawking, point at open tomb and applaud, or do we walk through and into the life-charged opportunity that Jesus has for today, and tomorrow….?
The last answer I’ll share in this space was paired with this photo of me playing guitar (the photo is from Palm Sunday), and it has to do with the question, “Share an experience of joy from the past few days….”
Easter morning, ten minutes before contemporary worship, I laid out eight measures of a simple rock baseline on guitar. Soon, the lead guitar joined me, then drums. A couple of minutes later one trumpet, then two, picked up the jam. Eventually our bass guitarist, the congas, and at least a couple of trombones jumped in.
It was a sweet, joyful, bluesy, optimistic, spontaneous testimony to joy. Because, of course, the Holy Spirit is a member of our band too.
The Easter song is just beginning. It’s spontaneous, sometimes it’s edgy, and it is simply charged with life. It would be a shame not to join in and add your voice….