Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Happy Easter!

No, Jesus is not doing jumping jacks! 

Mates, as you have probably discovered by now, your Captain takes his faith very seriously.

Not in the conventional “Evangelical Christian Ya-Ya” way.

And I’m not a deep theological thinker either. 

But I’ve been at this a long, long time and some things just chap my butt!

Read on, if you dare.

We are just past Easter Sunday – it fell early this year – but the liturgical calendar says we are still in “the season of Easter”, so the greeting is appropriate.

Now, since many of my friends are clergy colleagues, for the last couple weeks my Facebook feed has been filled with invitations to Holy Week and Easter services and activities.

We all do it.

Such ads are cheap and easy and (hopefully) reach a lot of people.

“For only $42 you can 'boost' your post and reach another randomly-selected 1,065 people!”


One ad in particular caught my good eye:

CAPTAIN'S NOTE: I do not know this church or its pastor.

Where to begin…

Okay, first off, Good Friday is the day on which Jesus was crucified. The Last Supper, which they call "Communion", is observed on Maundy Thursday.

Maybe the Captain is straining out a gnat, but there is a difference.

Typical Good Friday services are somber affairs. Your Captain tends to lean on the Tenebrae service, “a service of growing darkness”, in which candles are extinguished one by one as scripture accounts of Jesus’ last hours are read. As Jesus breathes his last, the final candle is extinguished, leaving the congregation in total darkness. That final candle is then re-lit as a sign of promise and the hope of resurrection to come, but Jesus is left in the grave until Sunday morning.

Apparently the above-mentioned congregation celebrates the Last Supper on Good Friday - the meal at which Jesus told his disciples he was going to be betrayed by one of them, be arrested, be crucified - which seems to me would be a real downer as well. 

But then the ad promises an “After Party”! 

Complete with "pulled pork and all the fixings!"

Because... just... well...


Of course, every preacher wants his church to be full on Easter morning, and this church is no exception.

“Children’s choirs will be performing at both services!”

“Easter Egg Hunt at both services!”

“Cookies for the kids!”

“Bounce Houses!”

“A Photo-Booth!”


“The Easter Bunny will make an appearance!”

“Plus, sign the attendance pad and you will be entered into a drawing to win a lifetime supply of Chick-fil-a!”


At Christmas we call it "crass commercialization". 

Easter is quickly catching up!

Perhaps the Captain just doesn’t have the vision needed to lead my small congregation on these special days.

I mean, we did an Easter Egg Hunt… the week before.

But I told the 50-or-so children the Easter story before turning them loose on a thousand candy-filled eggs!

On Easter morning I did give away the Easter Lilies I purchased for decorations.

But only because I am allergic to them and I didn’t want them to sit on the altar and die.

But… the Easter Bunny? Really?

To be honest, we don’t have much of a budget for stuff like this.

And most important of all, the Captain believes you shouldn’t have to bribe people to come to church!

When I was a kid, there were rumors circulating around town about one particular church’s Bus Ministry, that they would tape money under the seats of the bus and if you rode the bus to church and sat in that seat, you got to keep the money!

This was never confirmed, but totally plausible.

Mates, the Captain doesn’t recall anywhere in the Bible where anyone tried to bribe people to worship God or to be followers of Jesus.

Jesus did feed the hungry on occasion, but not as an enticement. In fact, in John’s gospel Jesus turned on the crowd of followers one afternoon and declared, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”

Well… yeah.

And we’re hungry again…

Jesus reportedly turned water into wine at a wedding feast, but not to make disciples.

CAPTAIN’S NOTE: He did that because his mother told him too!

Your Captain can’t even begin to imagine Jesus offering Bounce Houses and Chick-fil-a to entice people to follow him.

And the Easter Bunny?

Holy shit!!! Run, children, run!

Instead, Jesus told his disciples to take up their cross and follow him.

Literally, 'Do what I have done.'

In the Sermon on the Mount (as reported in Matthew’s gospel), Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted prophets who were before you.”

Now there’s a recruiting poster for ya!

Your Captain is serious here: How do they make the switch?

When the preacher finally gets around to talking about discipleship (if he [sic] ever does), how many are going to respond, “Oh, no. I just came for the pulled pork!”

The following anecdote came from a book written by John Maxwell, (so it may or may not be true):

President Abraham Lincoln, an incredible communicator, was known during the Civil War to attend a church not far from the White House on Wednesday nights. The preacher, Dr. Gurley, allowed the president to sit in the pastor’s study with the door open to the chancel so he could listen to the sermon without having to interact with the crowd.

One Wednesday evening as Lincoln and his companion walked back to the White House after the sermon, the president’s companion asked, “What did you think of tonight’s sermon?”

“Well,” Lincoln responded, “it was brilliantly conceived, biblical, relevant, and well presented.”

“So, it was a great sermon?”

“No,” Lincoln replied. “It failed. It failed because Dr. Gurley did not ask us to do something great.”

But Jesus did.

The purpose of the Church is not to entertain people or offer free prizes from the Easter Bunny.

The purpose of the Church is to continue the work of Christ by sharing with others the Good News that God loves them and that their sins are forgiven, no matter what. 

The purpose of the Church is to set people free from the bondage that prevents them from living their best life, an abundant life. 

In this world.

The purpose of the Church is to reach out with loving hands to feed the hungry and heal the sick, to provide shelter to the un-homed, to be a friend to the friendless.

And the purpose of the Church is to make more disciples who are willing to go and do the same.

Well, now look here…

The Captain has gone to preaching!

With apologies to my crew, I just had to get that off my chest.

Carry on, mates.

But think about what I’ve said.