By: J.C. Mitchell
I have eaten way too much Easter Candy and I see there is still some around. How did it get in the house? Well I have to admit most of it was purchased by yours truly, but some did come in via the Easter Egg Hunt. What a fun time my 5 year old son and I had in the drizzle running on the church lawn. He held the basket for a bit, but deputized me to carry his stash as he ran in circles as the other children, quickly acquiring egg after egg. When he slowed a bit I encouraged him, hand-over-hand, to pick up a few eggs. Some of the volunteers would produce another egg from their magical pockets, but he was only nominally interested. So he had maybe ten eggs, while most of the other children had dozens. Both he and I were ecstatic about the fun time together and the joy of being around other happy children. I was also happy there was very little candy, for his taste of candy is limited to chocolate—all other candy is uninteresting to him. However, one of the volunteers was not letting the pastor’s child to leave with so few eggs. I told her that I didn’t need to eat the candy nor did AJ desire eggs. But we still got more piled into his basket.
I cannot be too hard on her, because I had prepared a basket for Easter morning that had a Chocolate bunny, Peeps, a toy car, some chocolate eggs, and a rubber bunny. Some were left over things I had from last Easter, but I must say I spent much more than I was expecting too, trying to create a loving and special Easter memory. My wife thought I did well, without overdoing it. So Easter Morning arrived and our son who has autism poked the Peeps in his basket, and ran off. It has been in the same place since and not once has he returned to it. He has happily accepted chocolate we offered from the basket, but he has no interest in the basket itself or seeking out the candy in it. So yes, the basket ended up being more for me.
This is the classic church analogy. We set up programs or worship with the intention of fulfilling the desire of another. Be it those younger or those seeking, we truly believe our actions are for whoever we are marketing. So yes, the targeted audience will only simply poke their head into the program or the worship, and will not be satisfied. It is easy to figure out that the new program or the new worship, is a veneer and not a real change, and it is certainly not a change that came from these targeted populations.
I am aware that the Gospel is constant, and I am not suggesting we need to make the Gospel relevant. It is always relevant and always being revealed when people love as Jesus mandated us to, as He loved us. With my son I am often impressed how he leads me deeper into the Gospel and this past weekend during the hunt he decided it was much more important to hold out his tongue to catch rain drops over searching for the plastic eggs filled with sugar, and by following his lead I am reminded that the resurrection was not about highlighting the old ways in new packaging, it is about living through the fear of death.
Church, let us look for the Gospel--not only in how we discovered it, but let us ask the social other, “where do you see the Divine?” and look there, for we know God is bigger than any church or basket.