“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.” Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 ESV
The billboards and television advertising of local megachurches has been visible for several weeks now. The ultimate goal of a marketing campaign which floods the airwaves and clutters the freeways every spring is to get people to come to church on Easter Sunday. Let’s face it, a lot of people show up on Easter who we don’t normally see for the rest of the year, except perhaps at Christmas. The Christian calendar, and the influence of “holy days,” has made a deep trench in our culture. The result is that those who have a background in the Christian faith, but who may have been distanced from or alienated from the institutional church for some reason, have an inclination to think in terms of church at these holiday times. And so, in an effort to direct where they may land, megachurches launch expensive advertising campaigns, and their smaller counterparts do whatever they can to “get ’em there.”
I’m not absolutely certain how I feel about all of this.
The resurrection of Jesus is the single most important event of the entire Christian faith. It is the one thing on which all other things Christian turn. Without it, there is no church, no savior, no salvation, no reconciliation with God, no hope. It is mentioned in such terms in all four of the gospel accounts, and interpreted for the church in several other places in the New Testament. It is linked to Old Testament prophecy for absolute confirmation of its place in God’s divine plan for the redemption of humankind. There’s just something about breaking it down into a one-day holiday to gather the less committed elements of the church, or to call those efforts “outreach,” that bothers me, and more than just a little bit.
It was a television commercial by a local megachurch that really stirred my thinking in this direction. The commercial begins with video of a person dressed in a bunny suit running through the woods. In each succeeding scene, we see more bunnies running, down the sidewalks of the downtown area, through crowds, and eventually, we see hundreds of them running down the walkway entrance to the church, and then seated in the pews as the pastor steps forward to preach. The tag line is something like “even the Easter bunny knows where to go” or some such statement. That’s just a bit too casual for me, I think.
Easter is a celebration of the resurrection, but then, whenever the church meets together on a Sunday, or a Saturday, and worships together, it is celebrating the resurrection. If you decide to find your way to church this Sunday, and it’s not something you normally do, take it as seriously as Ecclesiastes says you should, and make it permanent.