It’s the week after Easter. Easter Sunday excitement fades
quickly. Over are the weeks of Lenten preparation along with any disciplines we might have followed. Restored are the foods or other things we gave up for Lent and life goes on as it did before. Really? If celebrating the birth of Christ each year renews our commitment to follow God – which seems the case since worship and small groups attendance grows stronger after Christmas – shouldn’t Christ’s resurrection have the same effect? Then why is it that most American churches experience a decided drop in attendance shortly after Easter. I know, there are graduations and vacations and such but those don’t begin for at least another few weeks. How is it that the most important event in salvation history gets little more than a nod after Easter Sunday? I’m painting with a broad brush here, I know, but the trends are still there and have been for all my years in ministry. My unscientific explanation: the cross and the cruel death Jesus experienced is just a little too close for us at Easter. After all, “Take up your cross and follow me” means something completely different to us in light of what that meant for Jesus. At Christmas, a safe distance from Easter, we can romanticize our faith by focusing on the baby Jesus, a small and helpless infant. But at Easter, we must look the crucified Jesus in the eye and our first response? Often we look away, his gaze into our lives too intense for our taste. When we turn away, though, we turn away from the grace that also abounds in that gaze. We turn away from the healing offered by that gaze. We turn away from the forgiveness we often need daily. Don’t drop your eyes or look away this year, for when you do, you also miss the love we all crave that’s also waiting there in the resurrected Christ’s gaze.