Sunday, April 27, 2014

Low Sunday

The Sunday after Easter (and the one after Christmas) is known in church circles as Low Sunday. Not a year goes by that this day doesn't remind of this story...

The spring of 2001 found me serving the Union Church of Hinsdale in the western suburbs of Chicago. A large, very traditional church, we had just celebrated Easter with great pomp and circumstance. A huge crowd had filled the building to overflow. Trumpets played, handbells rang out and choirs sang. It was quite a spectacle. The following Sunday one of our Associate Pastors, a young man named Mark Toole, was preaching. Mark was one of my favorite staff members I ever worked with, both as a pastor and as a person. He currently teaches world religions at High Point University in NC. I was sitting up in the pulpit area with Mark, as I was the scripture reader that day. Mark rose and looked at the crowd, which was sparse, certainly compared to the previous week. He addressed the congregation with the following thoughts (my paraphrase): Remember last Sunday? Remember how the choir processed in with the trumpets playing? Remember the amazing sound of a full choir and the great handbells? Remember how amazing you all sounded as we proclaimed that Christ the LORD is Risen Today? Remember how the crowd filled not only the sanctuary, but the overflow area as well? It was truly a wonderful day and the people of this community filled Union Church. So today I just have one more question. All of that captures the feel of what Mark said. His next question is a direct quote that I will never forget. He paused, starred into the crowd and asked loudly and firmly, "So where the hell are they?"  The congregation erupted in snickers and gasps and outright laughter (that would be me...). The point he went on to make, at least in my mind, was very basic. How can, each year and all over the world, so many people hear the message of the resurrection and then go back to living life as if it never happened? It's not about church attendance- in fact my family is missing church today- it's about PASSION! Why are we more concerned with beating the Baptists to the best lunch spots than forgiving our friend who hurt us? Why is it that so many people walk away from our churches each week saying "What a nice service" instead of proclaiming "Jesus is alive...and THAT IS AWESOME!" I wish I knew the answer, or even understood how such things can happen. Thanks Mark, for stepping out of the box for a moment that never fails to remind me that Jesus is to celebrated every day!  I mean can you have a "Low Sunday" when you are walking with the Savior?

Because of Jesus,

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