“Good Friday” and “Easter Sunday” are word combinations everybody knows. But what about “Easter Friday”? Did some of you think my blog title was a type-o? It’s not. 🙂 Read on…
In the church calendar, each day of this week has the word “Easter” in front of it. So today is known as “Easter Friday.” I like this designation because it reminds us of what we just celebrated 5 days ago on Easter Sunday — the resurrection of Jesus — which is the anchor of our faith (see 1 Corinthians 15:14).
We need a reminder that today is not just Friday — but Easter Friday — because in our fast paced society, since Easter Sunday most of us are back to work by now… back to school… back to our hobbies… back to doing projects around the house. Although Easter is only a handful of days in our rear view mirror, it can quickly slip from our minds if we aren’t careful. That’s one of the reasons I chose to write this blog.
As you know we are not just “The Eastside Church.” We are part of the Vineyard movement, an association of 1,500+ churches around the world. Two years ago, the United States branch of our movement elected a new national director: Phil Strout. I personally met Phil at a Society of Vineyard Scholars event and he and I had an extended conversation which blessed me personally and made me feel like the Vineyard is in good hands in the years to come.
Below is an e-mail Phil sent out on Easter Sunday last year to all of the Vineyard pastors across the United States. I decided to simply copy and paste what he wrote, as it is a great reminder that today is not just “Friday.” And it’s a great reminder of the tension of living between the Resurrection and the Second Coming of Christ.
Dear Vineyard Family –
The Lord is Risen! We celebrate this weekend the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus – the death and resurrection that frees us from bondage to sin, defeats our enemy, and purchases for us eternal life with God our Father in glory. All over the Vineyard movement, and all over the world, followers of Jesus remember together this great event that binds us inexorably to each other and to God.
The Resurrection has a special place in our movement’s heart. At the center of our theology is the “already” and “not yet” of the Kingdom of God. We know that we live some of our lives in Good Friday. Any of us could tell the stories of pain, death, and loss in our churches this year. But we also know that some of our lives are lived on Easter Sunday – we know healing, victory, and reconciliation by the power of the Spirit and we celebrate together. Perhaps we are a Holy Saturday movement. We live in the tension between crucifixion and resurrection. But we also know that Jesus will win. The tension will not last forever. Easter points us to the resurrected one who was the first of many to be raised in new bodies, in the future fullness of the Kingdom of God.
Perhaps this is why the celebration of holidays is important. There are seasons of life in which it feels like the “not yet” is winning. I’ve heard your stories – times when your children struggle, pain in bodies that is not healed, churches that go through painful divisions. And I’ve lived through this myself – through the ups and down of family, church, and even health. But the not yet is never the end. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the power of the Father, and in doing so, gave us the last word defeating the enemies of sin, death, and the devil. We do not only hope for heaven – we believe in the power of the Spirit to let us taste tomorrow today.
The Vineyard is first and foremost a community of hope. We have been given the most precious message possible – the gospel of Jesus Christ. What a privilege it is to celebrate, proclaim, and experience all that Christ won for us through his death and resurrection!
Jan and I pray that you have a blessed and beautiful Easter. May God bless your churches, your communities, your families, and your souls with the resurrection power of Jesus.
Celebrating His Resurrection,
Phil and Jan Strout
***This Sunday we are launching an all-new series on “Spiritual Warfare.” We are going to pull back the curtain to the supernatural realm. But this won’t be like The Exorcist. And it’s not like the cartoons of the devil in red tights and holding a pitchfork either! This series kicks off on April 27th. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***