I know Easter weekend services are already underway at many churches around the world, but I feel compelled to share what my prayer for Easter weekend is.
Of course I’m praying for people far from God to experience the kind of hope that only Jesus gives. I’m praying for sound preaching, good worship, dedicated volunteers and lots of first time guests. I’m praying for kids ministry directors as many of them are spreading their limited volunteers and resources across double, triple or quadruple the kids they normally plan for. I’m praying for parking teams trying to anticipate and plan for more cars than available parking spots. I’m praying for the millions of people who won’t even think of stepping into a church this weekend but they might find themselves in their living room and experiencing an online service.
I’m praying for pain to be transformed, darkness to tremble, shame and guilt to be redeemed and fear to be overcome. I’m praying for hope to be found. I’m praying for the criminal, the single dad, the addict, the widow, the abandoned, the sick, the bereaved and the wayward teenager.
I’m praying for the 20 year old named Felicia sitting in the third row, stage left, all the way to the wall. She came in with a group of people. You might mistake them for her family. She actually just met them and they invited her to this church. They called it a “way of life more than a church.” It sounds like a cult to her. She’s grown up legalistic and hearing that megachurches are all evil. She’s specifically heard bad things about this one. She’s not giving this place a chance. See that smirk on her face? She’s already decided this place is a joke.
But even though she is trying hard to not pay attention, God is still speaking to her. She’s hearing a different kind of message. She’s finding out there might be more to this Jesus story after all.
Six years later, my church isn’t just a church for me. It’s home. It’s where my family is. It’s where I turn when life beats me up. It’s where I find purpose and community. And it’s all because God captured my heart at a Saturday night Easter service on April 23, 2011.
I like to remember that night. Every Easter weekend, I like to be still in the midst of the chaos of preparation and serving to just remember how important it all is. So my prayer is for the 20 year old girl named Felicia. The one scarred from abuse and abandonment. The one whose trust in church had been misused and ministry leaders terrify her. The one who skeptically obliged to an invitation from a new friend but has no interest in calling this church “home.”
A few years ago, I said “yes” to serving in ministry. Six months ago, I left my home campus to help a new location launch into its new building. Forty days ago, I finally decided to rest in the freedom only Jesus can give, and was baptized.
That all happened because of a Saturday night Easter service. I don’t care where or how you experience Easter this weekend, I sincerely pray that you hear a story about a hope that can only be found in the Son of God. I pray you experience friendly volunteers, great worship and lots of family memories, but I especially pray you learn about just how much your Creator loves you.