Easter Has Come and Gone. Now What?

By Rev. Keith Turman | 2024-04-04 | 4 min read

On that first Easter evening, Jesus appeared to the disciples and said to them: “It is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

In my seminary days in Atlanta, WR Cannon United Methodist Church hired me to be their part-time youth pastor. The youth pastor’s office was in a corner of the basement—it was really just a closet—big enough for a desk and a chair. I was sitting in that chair one Sunday morning, fifteen minutes before the 8:30 service was about to start, and the senior pastor appeared in my doorway. He wasn’t wearing his robe. He was suspiciously dressed like he was on his way to the golf course. Except his eyes were puffy and red, and his nose was dripping. “I can’t preach this morning. I’m sick. You need to cover for me. I’ve blessed the communion elements.” And with that, he was gone. He left me with fifteen minutes to write a sermon and mentally prepare myself to lead a congregation of seven hundred people through two worship services and Holy Communion. In those frantic moments, I convinced myself that the congregation would understand my predicament—the bar would be set really low. As we gathered for the service, I told the liturgist and lay leader what had just happened. To my horror, I got very little sympathy. He slapped me on the shoulder and said, “Well, it’s a good thing every preacher has a sermon in his back pocket, right?”

I barely survived the ordeal. After it was all over, a member of the church approached me in the hallway, and I was puzzled by what she said: “Keith, that had to be the best sermon I’ve ever heard.” I immediately searched her eyes for the evidence that she had completely abandoned her commitment to the ninth commandment. But her eyes were brimming with tears. She was telling the truth. And she thanked me for words that encouraged her and brought hope where before there was none. God had taken the words I feebly strung together and did something special in someone’s life. It’s important for us to remember that God does this sort of thing. Jesus said to his disciples, “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers, do not worry about what you are to say. In that very moment, the Holy Spirit will give you the words to speak.”

I learned about the chaffinch from my friend Dave Stum. The chaffinch is one of the most widespread and abundant birds in England and Ireland, about the size and color of a robin. The chaffinch song is beautiful. It is a short and simple repetition of notes ending in a flourish. The Victorians greatly valued its ability as a songster, and huge numbers were trapped annually for the cage bird trade so people could have them in their homes to hear them sing. But the chaffinch has a unique characteristic…it can forget how to sing, and when it forgets how to sing, can become depressed and die! You must take the songless bird back into the wild, where the wild birds are, and the chaffinch will relearn its song.

I wonder if we can be like that? Easter comes and Easter goes. We fly back into our cages and forget the sound of God’s voice—the power of God’s song. On that first Easter evening, Jesus said to his disciples: “You’ve got to sing! You’ve got to sing! So, wait here, in the city—it’s about to get wild.”

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