"Courage, Dear Heart", Easter is Coming
As a children’s ministry leader, the word Easter can induce some panic, for we know that Easter Sunday is one of the highest attendance dates in our calendar year. We know what that means prep-wise. We know what that means volunteer-wise. We know what that means sanity-wise! So let's get prepared.
For those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere, it can be a challenge to keep going during the bleak midwinter days. The mountain of Christmas has passed, and we get a moment to dust ourselves off and take a look at the landscape ahead.
Literally, looking out on my landscape today, it’s pretty drab. The sky is gray, the trees are bare, there is a trinkle of (almost pretty, yet too sparse to be) snow. Perhaps this is indicative of your own internal landscape. January is considered the most depressing month of the year.
So then, maybe January is tough for you as you recover from the ministry overload of the fall and on into Christmas. But to you I say, in the words whispered by Aslan in a different form to Lucy, 'Courage, dear heart.' Easter is coming.
Easter is coming. What image, thoughts, or smells does the word Easter conjure in you?
I picture fresh growth of flora and fauna bursting forth into the world. New life. That’s what Easter is all about. New life in Christ. Resurrection. Renewal.
As a children’s ministry leader, the word Easter can also induce some panic for we know that Easter Sunday is one of the highest attendance dates in our calendar year.
We know what that means prep-wise. We know what that means volunteer-wise. We know what that means sanity-wise!
And so, while we trudge along on the desolate winter landscape, we gaze bleary-eyed ahead to all of that work. That sounds depressing, doesn’t it? In this job that we love, for these kids that we love, for this church that we love. And yet, it does feel like that sometimes, doesn’t it?
If that resonates, to you I say, it’s okay. In the words of God to Elijah, 'Have a snack. Take a nap. Have another snack.' Pause. Be still. You don’t have to earn rest to take it.
Only then, would I encourage you to lift your eyes. Gaze towards the beauty and the glory of the Cross. There will be brand new families attending. There will be first ever church attendees. There will be children who hear the full message of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Friend, this is why we do what we do! We are spiritual midwives participating in the birth of new life. While, of course, this can happen any time – any date on the calendar as the Spirit moves – but there sure is something about the increased spiritual curiosity around Easter that begs to be cultivated.
While families show up with open hearts, there will be kids who will, some for the first time, get a glimpse of God’s larger story. There is something happening in His story right now. He is already at work in ways we cannot see. And so, I want to invite you to prepare, not just with supply-prep and lesson-prep and volunteer-prep, but with your own soul-prep.
It’s a strange gift that we are offered in the Lenten season. We are given 40 days to prepare our hearts for the Easter weekend. As Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days, we, too, can fast from various things in preparation for Easter. And while there are a great many things we can choose to fast from (social media, excess spending, sugar), may I encourage you to try a fast of these things:
Speaking untruthfully or destructively about others
Assuming the worst of people
In this one-step-in-front-of-the-next season, fasting from these things will be like, as the writer of Hebrews says, 'throw[ing] off everything that hinders . . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.' I don’t know about you, but not having to worry about the extra baggage right now feels wonderful. So, as we say no to worry, negative self-talk, speaking poorly of others, to assuming the worst, and to striving, we can run with perseverance setting our eyes on Christ.
As we clear out the clutter these things bring, we create space. We can listen with focus and resolve to those words, 'Courage, dear heart,' Easter is coming! (Hallelujah!)
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