By Pastor Dave Gustavsen
This Sunday is Easter, and you should go to church.
Easter is the day when billions of people all over the globe will gather to celebrate how Jesus of Nazareth, sent by God and representing humanity, rose from the dead. I think you should join in the celebration.
Yes, I’m a pastor. But no, I’m not writing this so more people will attend my church. I really don’t care where you go. Go to an Episcopal church and be awed by the beauty of the liturgy. Go to a Catholic church and find comfort in the tradition. Go to a Pentecostal church and let loose. Go to a Baptist, Reformed, Methodist, Lutheran, or independent church. Go to an Orthodox church (you get an extra week to prepare for that one). Go anywhere the resurrection of Christ is celebrated.
Why? Because hospitals and schools are being bombed in Ukraine. Because of shootings on the subway, insane passengers on airplanes, and slaps at the Oscars. Because of suicide in your town (or family), and overdoses, and cancer, and all the unspoken pain in your personal life. The sheer weight of this world’s ugliness can crush us, depress us, or make us cynical…unless. Unless we have something big enough, and beautiful enough to counteract the ugliness. Easter is that big-enough, beautiful-enough message.
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” the angel asked the women at the empty tomb. “He is not here; he has risen!” That’s the same seems-too-good-to-be-true message that will be proclaimed again this Sunday. You need to hear that death doesn’t have the final word. You need to hear there’s power for new chances and new beginnings. Yes, the church has made lots of mistakes, and it’s led by people who fall so far short of their founder, but it still carries a message powerful enough to change the trajectory of a human life. Maybe more than ever before, you need Easter. And so do I.
This Sunday morning, as the sun rises, the angel’s words will again ring out from millions of churches: “He is risen!” You should be there.
Dave Gustavsen is the senior pastor at The Chapel in Lincoln Park, NJ. This article was adapted from a recent Facebook post.