The Wide World of Easter
Todd Stiles   -  

This year Easter fell on the first Sunday of the month. Yes, just eight days ago. Whenever that happens, it is a wide world of Easter!

Why do I say that? Because that is also the week FFC conducts the service at one of our local nursing homes, Sunny View. Not surprisingly, the service at FFC and the service at Sunny View are worlds apart. Neither is better or worse than the other; just different, and for good reasons. That’s what I mean by a wide world of Easter. Let me explain.

This year was the first time we were able to hold our monthly service at Sunny View in over a year. We’re thankful they let us resume this Easter. For years I conducted the service there, but as of late Mike Lucas and his team of volunteers have humbly and faithfully served that community each month. I’m really grateful for their service.

Regardless of who leads the Easter service at Sunny View, it is quite the experience. It’s usually melodies set to acapella music or a single accompany piano, then a simple 12- to 15-minute message. During the 30-minute service, buzzers are going off, visitors are walking by, and nurses are checking rooms; it can be quite the medical circus at times. There are often as many as 30 crowded in to the community space, or as few as ten. Several are already sleeping even as they are strolled down the hallway to take their place in the group. Yet, in the middle of all the things that seem to be distracting, God proves he is captivatingly present. In all of its raw and vulnerable simplicity, that place becomes a holy temple for the Lord. Those moments are perspective-setting and soul-soothing.

On the other hand, Easter at FFC, at least this year, was four services, each with a passionate worship choir and musicians leading the congregation in splendid songs celebrating the risen Christ. Baptisms, testimonies, and moments of Scripture and prayer were extra special on Easter as we all watched people take steps of growth in their walk with the Lord. Additionally, months of outreach and preparation and a multitude of volunteers came together to welcome, not only those who call FFC home, but a host of guests who are “back” after Covid. I’m always stirred by the excitement in the room as so many Spirit-empowered gifts merge together to help us be “a dwelling place for God.” As a pastor, it is invigorating to see God at work in such memorable and visible ways. And it makes me long for more fruit.

See what I mean by a “wide world of Easter”? The two experiences, all within hours of each other, are no doubt at polar ends of the “church service” spectrum. Yet, both focus on the Son of God, are done in the power of the God, enjoy the presence of God, and bring glory to God. Granted, they each have their enjoyable aspects and frustrating elements. But both are places where God’s people gather to be his dwelling place. So both are biblically beautiful.

Today, refuse to get caught up in the noise of image. Ignore the trap of perception. God does wondrous things among the few in the nursing homes, as well as in the hundreds in the worship centers. He is present at the wheelchair with the 90-year old widow, as well as in the crowded aisle with the pacing mother of a newborn. It is not about the amount, but about the focus. And when Christ is the focus, even the wide world of Easter experiences share a common foundation—the power and presence of God among the people of God.

Pastor Todd