The last 11 months have been full of huge milestones. Each of these milestones plays into the significance of the other. Just to mention a few, here we go (in chronological order):

  • Graduating with my M.Div.
  • First full time pastorate
  • My first time tagging a cows ear
  • My first funeral
  • First Child being born (within 24 hours of my first funeral)
  • My first time coaching high school cross country
  • My first time riding in a combine
  • My first Christmas as a pastor
  • My first funeral of someone associated with my church
  • My first time being a paid coach
  • My first Holy Week as a pastor
Easter 2017

Before I give you my thoughts and comments, watch this video below. A few of my friends posted this video on Facebook. It made me chuckle, but was very different than Easter at Grace Bible Church in Astoria, IL.

Here are a few things I learned last week. It was a very busy and humbling week, where the highlights include:

  • Monday I had a track meet
  • Tuesday I had a church leadership meeting
  • Wednesday I had prayer meeting
  • Thursday I had a track meet and a Maundy Thursday service
  • Friday I ran in the hail
  • Saturday I took off
  • Sunday was Easter

The humbling aspect came from this being a time of “firsts” and how patient and loving my church was with me. I was allowed to be part of the week as well, not just a Pastor/Preacher/Director/Manager as seen in the video above.

I saw that a church is not ran by a “strong leader” but rather a leader is made strong by knowing and seeing the strengths of his church. There were people who stepped up and prepared every meal, and were coordinaters behind the scenes.

Oh yea, and they are all volunteers.

In the video above there is an understood “staff” of paid full and part-time employees being directed around by the pastor. I am not against that. I would love an intern. But at Grace Bible Church we do not have a “staff.”

We have a church.

{*These next stories are not told for any personal recognition, but rather to show how awesome the deacons are at Grace Bible Church*}

Thursday one of the deacons and I decided to visit one of our dearest members in the hospital. He is 96 years old, a WW2 vet, POW, and has been a pillar of this church for decades. As we visited with him we served him communion, since we knew he would not be able to make the service that night. As we broke bread and drank the juice with him we were humbled to remember God’s goodness. We were humbled to remember Christ’s body being broken for us. We were humbled that Jesus shed his blood for us.

And we celebrated that He arose!

The Maundy Thursday service went well. It is an old traditional service which the church has been doing since the middle of the 1800’s. It is a solemn time of hymn singing, foot washing, and sharing a simple meal, in order to remember the night where Christ shared the Last Supper with the disciples, washed their feet, and later was betrayed.

I’ve never been part of a foot washing service before. In fact, I’ve skipped out on them during my Moody Bible Institute days (a story for another blog post!). But this is the only tradition the church asked me to keep and follow as a pastor. So I honored it.

And it humbled me.

My church doesn’t “need” me. Our deacons are amazing. They coordinated the entire service and allowed me to come frantically during the middle of my track meet (I coached as long as I could before driving to the church to be part of the service). When I was there I saw how much these men love God. I saw how much they love this church. I saw how much the women of the church love God. I saw how much they love the church.

Then after the service I had the privilege of taking communion to three other shut-ins with the deacons of my church. As we did this I recalled the church fathers of the first few centuries and how they practiced the same tradition of bringing communion to the shut-ins. I was deeply humbled to practicing the same service the saints of old have done.

Then came Sunday.

I preached my first “twofor.” We had a Sunrise service, as well as a regular service, as did so many churches across the world.

I was nervous. But in my nervousness God brought one of the deacons to me as I was doing last minute preparations in my office. This deacon prayed for me.

He showed me yet again, Sundays are not about the pastor. And for sure Easters are not.

And this is what I want everyone to remember about Easter. It is never supposed to be about a pastor, a sermon, a cantata, candy, Easter Egg hunts, bunnies, suits, music, or having the building look great.

Easter is about the Resurrected Lord of All.

I was reminded about this by the humble attitudes of my deacons and the congregation. We worshiped together. We celebrated together.

When Jesus rose from the grave, He didn’t do it so that pastors could freak out about a special service. He didn’t do it so that everyone would dress up and eat a nice meal. He didn’t do it so that visitors would come.

He rose from the grave to show that sin and death were defeated and that God accepted his sacrifice upon the cross.

He rose to give us new life.

And may everything we say and do be about showing others this new life which Jesus has given us.

-Pastor Ben