I’ve always said that someday I’m going to design a church to fit the natural instincts of most people. The main element will be pews on a conveyor belt. When people walk into the church, there will be only one pew available — in the back, of course — just where everybody wants to sit! Then, when the back pew fills up, the whole pew would move to the front on a conveyor belt, and a new empty pew would pop up in the back for the next group of people and so on.
This would be the preacher’s dream-come-true! Every worshipper would be as close to the pastor and the altar — and hopefully The Lord — as possible!
The Easter story begs the question, “How close will you come?” And it has nothing to do with pews in the church. But it has everything to do with your life and what you’re doing with it.
I know there are some of you reading this newspaper who are looking at this whole “Jesus thing” from a relatively distant position. You have doubts. You mistrust the bold claims of Jesus’ death to pay for your sins, and his resurrection for your eternal life. You have decided for non-involvement because you just can’t be sure about it all.
Even Mary Magdalene, the great supporter and follower of Jesus, when she saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb, initially stayed at a relatively distant position. Who among you might be like her?
I know there are even some of you reading this newspaper who have come so close to encountering and experiencing the full impact of the risen Jesus, but have stopped short with fear. You wonder, “What if it’s really true?” You become afraid when you ponder what claim Jesus would have on your life if you gave yourself totally to him and the reality of his resurrection. You’re “frozen” by the dramatic change this might mean for your life.
Even John, the faithful younger disciple and eventual author of the Gospel account, came running to the open and empty tomb, stood so close, but was afraid to enter and encounter what it all really meant. Who among you might be like him?
I also know that there are many of you reading this newspaper who are right now standing boldly in the full power and presence of the resurrection of Jesus. Your faith is centered in the crucified Jesus for the forgiveness of all of your sins. You’re “sold out” to your savior, the risen Lord Jesus Christ. You are completely dedicated to living your life in the peace and joy only Jesus can give. You are enjoying all that this exciting life has to offer by giving yourself in loving service to others. You are worshipping your Creator, enjoying the fellowship of other believers, growing to be more like Jesus, giving yourself in mission and ministry to the world around you, and telling the Good News of Jesus to your family, friends, and people around the world.
Peter, with all his faults, failures, and shortcomings, ran to the empty tomb that first Easter morning and boldly dashed in to get as close to all the action and blessing as he possibly could. Who among you might be like him? Aren’t you blessed!
The bottom line is this: If you’re at a distance from Jesus, come “all the way in!” Leave your doubts behind. If you’ve come close, but are still holding back, come “all the way in!” If you’re already “all the way in,” please stay! You’re in the right place!
The Good News is that the power of the resurrection of Jesus is calling to you, seeking you out, leading you into faith and a wonderful life of community and joy!
As Easter morning dawns, please ask yourself, “How close will you come?” And then, because Jesus loves you with an everlasting love, come all the way into his presence, all the way into his power, all the way into the celebration of his magnificent resurrection from the dead!
All the churches around you are open to your coming! Don’t miss the glorious and meaningful Easter celebration! Here at Prince of Peace we are making special plans to welcome our visitors and guests on Easter Sunday morning. If you are looking for a church or just need a place to come and worship for Easter, we would be honored to have you join us here. I’ll see you in the empty tomb.
Justin Kollmeyer is pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Hwy. 314 in Fayetteville, between Lowe’s and The Pavilion. He invites anyone looking for a church to worship Easter Sunday: Outdoor Sunrise Service (casual, dress warmly) at 7:30 a.m. in the beautiful outdoor Peace Chapel in the woods on the church property. Traditional Pipe Organ Service at 11:15 a.m. in the liturgical sanctuary. Contemporary Worship at 9:15 a.m. in the comfortable Life Center. For more information log-on at www.princeofpeacefayette.com or call 770-461-3403.