My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Alright. I freely admit that the title of this email is NOT true, at least on face value. There is absolutely nothing messy about Shepherd of the Hills this week after Easter. Not that it couldn’t be a resplendent mess. After all, when hundreds of people (wahoo!) come through your building to worship, fellowship, eat, and celebrate, there is a high likelihood that a mess is going to occur.
And, there were messes over Holy Week. Candles dripped. Dirt was tracked in. The kitchen was well-used. Eggs were hidden all over the front yard. But, when I came into the office on Tuesday morning, I couldn’t tell. To borrow an odd analogy, there wasn’t a hair out of place. Everyone pitched in and cleaned up the messes of our celebrations. The youth and parents squared away the kitchen. Many volunteers picked up scattered bulletins and miscellaneous bits. Glenda Odegaard worked her magic. Susan Thompson had made the landscaping come to life. I walked into a beautiful church that is brimming with care and life.
But, while the church is squared away and not a mess, I am always conscious of what our internal faith lives are like post-Easter. After the celebration, after the new hallelujahs, after the story of the risen Jesus, how are our personal walks with God going? After all, we just got through a long Lenten season. And, it wasn’t just long in length, but also emotionally-filled with many challenging life events for many in the congregation.
Like the disciples in John’s Gospel this week (John 21.19-31), there is still turmoil, perhaps there is more turmoil in our lives after Easter. Frankly, Easter makes things kind of a mess. We hear about new life and celebrate the resurrection, but it can seem like the rest of our lives don’t necessarily pay attention. It is safer. It is easier to avoid the empty tomb and hide away with the messiness of our old hurts.
What I want you to hear, this beautiful week after Easter, my brothers and sisters, is that life is still messy. I truly get that. And faith in “new life” is hard. Thomas, the disciple, certainly gets that. Life doesn’t roll over and become sparkling just because Easter has passed on the calendar.
As we encounter the story of the disciples in a locked room and “doubting” Thomas this coming weekend, I hope you all come to hear that story and be assured that the challenges of faith and life post-Easter is something our God understands. And, that, as we gather together in a beautiful and clean church, that it is alright if we are messy underneath.
After all, the world wouldn’t have needed an empty tomb if we were all squared away!