Many Christians—for various reasons—only make it to their local churches once or twice a year: Christmas and Easter. With Resurrection Sunday right around the corner, many are gearing up for their first church trip of the year. As you pack the pews this Sunday, here are five tips to get the most out of Easter service to hold you over until December 25.
1)Enjoy the praise and worship: Just because you don’t make it inside the church doors doesn’t mean you can’t have praise and worship service by yourself: in your home, in your car, or in your office with the door closed. During Easter service, remember the songs they sing and add them to your iPod to keep your praise and worship experience going throughout the year.
2) Take note of the scriptures read in service: Nothing can help you continuously stay in a mindset of reverence to God like taking some time to read the Bible. On Easter, churches across the nation will probably be focused on the New Testament Gospels that detail Jesus’s life, death and resurrection –Matthew, Mark, Luke or John—or even the book of Acts, which describes the 40 days Jesus spent on earth with his disciples after God resurrected Him from the dead. Whichever scriptures strike a chord with you on Sunday, write them down and start your Bible reading from there. With Bible apps for your phone and iPad, you can read a little bit of scripture as often as you think of it.
3) Pay attention to the announcements: Nowadays, many churches announce their weekly or monthly activities by way of a visually stunning video presentation, but don’t get distracted! Pay attention to the service opportunities they have coming up in the community and see what you can fit into your schedule. Volunteering your time to the community is a great way to stay connected to your church and build relationships in your community, even when you can’t make it to service on Sunday.
4) Store up the sermon: Bring a notebook or an iPad or, if you forget, just use your smartphone to take notes while the preacher is giving you the lesson. Writing down important points and scriptures will not only help you stay awake during service but will also come in handy when you’re at home and looking to encourage yourself or remind yourself of what you learned. Also take note of whether this church’s sermons are available via podcast so you can listen to the latest sermons on the go in between church visits.
5) Remember why we celebrate Easter. There are two absolutely essential things we must remember about what the resurrection of Jesus Christ means for us: love and power. First, because we consistently mess up and do the wrong things and God does not want to be around sin, we were in danger of being separated from God’s presence forever. But because He loves us so much– even before we were born—God sent His Son Jesus to pay the penalty for our mistakes with His life. Christ withstood torture, humiliation, and a brutal murder with the understanding that His sacrifice would mean that everyone who believes in Him would never again have to be separated from God because of their mistakes. That is love!
So whenever anyone tries to tell you you’re not worth anything, that nobody loves you or will ever love you, that you’ve made too many mistakes to deserve another chance, that you’re not good enough, you remember that there is one man who, even in the midst of your mess and mistakes, found you so valuable, so precious and so worth it, that He died for you! When you know that the God of this whole universe loves you that much and finds you to be deserving of love, just the way you are, who cares what anyone else thinks about you?
Second, and most important of all, Christ did more than die, He got up from the dead early on a Sunday morning with all power over sin and death and Hell, just as He said He would! Those who conspired against Him, tortured Him and even murdered Him did not get the victory over Him. Here’s what that kind of power means for you as one who believes in Him. It means that when you’re on your job and your co-workers or even your boss is conspiring against you to defeat you, even if they succeed in hurting your feelings or even getting you fired, they will not succeed in taking your joy because you serve a living God, one with all power and authority to provide every one of your needs.
If He can get up from the grave, can’t He get you a job that’s even better than the one you had before? If He can withstand torture and humiliation, can’t He give you the strength to get through even the most devastating and embarrassing situations? If He can take the victory away from death itself, what can people do to you? What sickness, what hardships, what evil can come against you and defeat you when you have the ultimate champion, the Almighty God, who has conquered everything there is to conquer, standing in your corner?
Every day you wake-up, be reminded that you are covered by God’s love and power. Let that love and power carry you all the way through 'til Christmas!