The Sunday after Easter is often anti-climatic because the throngs that filled the pews last week have dissipated. It’s called “Low Sunday” because church attendance has dipped so drastically from the week before. How do we keep up the enthusiasm when Easter comes and goes?
The answer lies in the fact that every Sunday is a little Easter. Early Christians moved from Judaism’s worship on the Sabbath, Saturday, because Jesus rose on the first day of the week. The first day of the week is not only appropriate because of its theological emphasis on Jesus’ resurrection, but also because it’s during the work week that our faith faces the largest obstacles.
Easter faith is needed more than once a year, or even once a week. Our credo needs to be: “Never a Low Sunday!” or “Never a Low Day!” if we truly believe in the grace and power of Jesus! To worship the Living Christ is to put Jesus first day in, day out. A victorious life depends upon constant faith and faithful dependence upon Christ. To keep Easter is to let Jesus set us free from the sins that hold us.
A couple sat in a pastor’s office preparing to be married. It was the second marriage for both. The pastor asked, “When did your relationship with God become very real and personal?” The bride-to-be’s answer was profound. She said, “It was following my divorce, during a low period in my life. I was running with the wrong crowd. One morning at 3 am, I found myself in the parking lot of a place I did not want to be. I said, ‘That’s it. I’m tired of this lifestyle. Lord, I confess that my own sin has fouled up my life. I believe you loved me enough to die for me and rise again for me so that I can be forgiven. Please forgive my past. I want to be your child from now on.’” She said that she felt an immediate release, as if a huge burden had been lifted from her shoulders. She became a new person in Christ.
Each of us has a past, some more sordid than others. Unless it is faced and resolved, it will haunt us and pull us down every time. Easter can continue if we will let God heal us. Each of us has our own particular list of sins. But none is too short to dodge judgment, and none is so long that Jesus can’t forgive. According to a story I heard, Sam Snead, the great golfer, was playing a round of golf with the baseball great, Ted Williams. Ted said, “Sam, you’ve got it made. You just tee the ball up and hit it. The ball is dead still. But I have to stand in a batter’s box and face an incredible array of fastballs, curves, and sliders. The ball is moving, maybe 90 miles per hour. That’s why my sport is tougher than yours.” Sam Snead thought about that then said, “Yeah, but you don’t have to play your foul balls.” That reminds me of Bubba Watson’s incredible hooking golf shot last Sunday from the foul ground in the woods off of #10 at the Masters during the play-off.
What do we do with our foul balls? How do we fix our mistakes? The answer for the Christian is through forgiveness. Jesus forgives us if we confess our sins. He sets us free. He empowers us through the Holy Spirit to begin new lives. He gives us the supernatural ability to say, “No!” to sin.
Our faith puts God first in true worship. Then God changes us into God’s likeness. Did you hear about the three people who were asked the question, “What is integrity?” One man, a philosopher, answered, “Integrity is how you act when no one else is watching.” The second person, a business person, said, “Integrity means that when you shake hands on a deal, no written contract is even needed.” The third person, a politician, looked this way and that and said, “What do you want it to mean?” The third person could have been any profession especially as I think of Coach Bobby Petrino’s lack of truthfulness with his family, the Arkansas Athletic Director, and others in the last few days. His self-proclaimed one-person motorcycle wreck, which we now know included a female staffer with whom he was having an inappropriate relationship, finally sunk him.
As much as we would all want to distort God’s standards to mean what we want them to mean, God has a set standard. When we couldn’t meet that standard, Jesus came to save us. Now through faith and the Holy Spirit we can be made children of God, redeemed and set free from sin! Easter’s hope of redemption is needed every day for all of us! I’m counting on it!