Perhaps I am just in an overly critical funk this weekend, but once again, I'm not going to post those Easter thoughts. Instead, I'm going to ramble from my stream-0f-consciousness (at least I think I'm conscious - some days, who knows) around the Easter theme.
My boys LOVE holidays. One boy talks about one specific holiday throughout the whole year (if you know me, you'll know which boy I mean, and hey, you've got a fifty-fifty chance since one of the three can't talk yet). So, I have been trying to make a point this week of explaining the spiritual reason we celebrate Easter. Last Sunday, my MS loved holding, waving and then (in the car) tearing apart the palm branch he was given in church. We talked, ever so briefly, about Jesus dying on the cross (since we've had some emotions about dying lately).
Today, the church where my MS goes for Parent's Day Out held an Easter egg hunt. I had noticed the open invitation on the sign, so, I decided to bundle up the two little guys and give it a go (it looked like both rain and snow, so I wasn't sure how it would go). I'm sure they had fun. I survived and I was glad they had fun.
I suppose my brain works in certain ways because I was a pastor's kid. When I saw the jam-packed parking lot, my first thought was, "Man, this was a clever outreach event." It brings to mind, my friend Kyle and thoughts he once shared about visiting the Circus Museum in Wisconsin. The circus used to go out to share their incredible acts and impressive sights. They rallied people into their tents, moving to where the people were, not holed up in a museum. His point was that we, as Christians, have good news to share and we shouldn't keep this good news under wraps for quiet inspection in a museum. We, too, should go out to proclaim it.
I guess I left just a little bit sad in my soul. Yes, my children had fun. And, maybe, I'm the only one who saw it this way, but man what a wasted opportunity. We entered, they took names for door prizes. I ushered MS and YS out the door to the playground area where the 3-5s were allowed to look for eggs. After the egg hunt, we headed back to the sanctuary for games and the door prizes. Then, unexpectedly, we were all invited to stay for a hot dog lunch in the fellowship hall. I commend this church for offering nourishment and great entertainment to the public.
However, my soul ached just a little bit as well. I suppose, I expected to receive something with information about the church (even though I already know their information), some sort of small message about why they were opening their doors, some hint that there was good news to share and some greater pull towards a community of believers. During the hot dog lunch, I sat at a table with my two little boys and noticed the (sadly typical) division in the room. Regular attenders were all on one end of the room, packed around tables conversing animatedly with one another. Then there were the patches of non-attenders - isolated families, eating alone.
I will admit that I spent a great deal of time chasing the two little guys (remember, they are 1 and 3 and too heavy to hold the whole time), so perhaps I was a difficult target to approach. But, we were there for an hour and a half and I approached two or three people. One was wearing a Rockford sweatshirt, and I just had to ask if she was from Rockford (which is near where we used to live). She said "No," and quickly looked away (who knows, maybe it was a thrift store purchase and she only bought it because she liked the color). The only people who approached me were the pastor, his wife, and the PDO director.
I know I am more keenly aware of this subject because I have recently moved, but I do want to encourage others to reach out when newcomers enter their church doors. I already know the good news. I already have received the gift. But, so many others, enter with their families to search for Easter eggs, hoping that someone will give them more than an Easter egg and a hot dog lunch. I don't want to seem like I am slamming this church. I am not. I grew up in The Salvation Army. We were all about meeting the physical needs as an introduction to meeting the spiritual needs in others. I merely hope to encourage other believers to use their outreach events to effectively reach out. I found myself wishing they had instructed their regular attenders to seek out four or five newcomers to greet and strike up a conversation with. Perhaps they did, and I merely fell through the cracks (while chasing my whirling dervishes).
And, in that same spirit, I wanted to share a fabulous story of reconciliation. I love books with that theme. I crave these kinds of stories again and again. My soul needs to hear them. If you would like to read a fine story of reconciliation please read this. I hope that I may be more about sharing the good news than I have been. It is too important to forget! We all need more than an Easter egg and a hot dog for today; we need the miracle of Easter and His nourishment for today, tomorrow and eternity!