He is still risen. Maybe that’s where we should start in order to answer the question above: Are we as excited to go to church the week after easter? We should be because He is still risen.
If you work in full-time ministry, serve at church, or are a regular church attender, you will have seen the ‘Easter buzz’ this last couple of weeks. There are generally more people there than usual: there are new people, there are guests, and there are people you haven’t seen in a while. It’s great that the events of Easter draw people to church. It’s also frustrating and, honestly, disheartening to know that not all of them will be back the following week and it’s something I don’t love about the high points of the Christian calendar: the highs of proclaiming the Good News, the cross, the resurrection, the coming to take on flesh of Almighty God…followed by the low of an empty seat the following week.
But, I think to myself, He is still risen.
We love to gather at Christmas and Easter especially to commemorate and celebrate the birth of Jesus, the cross of Christ, and the empty tomb, don’t we? But is this the only time we should be excited to go to church? There is more going on at your weekly worship service than you think. Paul writing to the Thessalonians for the second time says:
“Now regarding the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to be with him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to be easily shaken from your composure or disturbed by any kind of spirit or message or letter allegedly from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here”.
(2 Thessalonians 2.1-2, NET, emphasis added)
Scripture makes abundantly clear that Jesus will come again (John 14.3, for example). Let me tell you that when Jesus returns the gathering of believers we will experience then will make our high days now look like a dry dress rehearsal! Whilst we wait for the ultimate gathering of believers there is a preview available to you, right now, that happens more than twice a year.
The particular word Paul used in his letter that we read as ‘our being gathered to be with him‘ is very telling. It’s only used a couple of times in Scripture; here to describe Jesus gathering believers together at His second coming and in Hebrews 10.25 to describe the formal gathering of the church each week. When Jesus returns He will gather us to be with Him (2 Thessalonians 2.1, verb – ἐπισυνάγω) and when we assemble as the church each week at our own meetings it is a foreshadow and preview of that wonderful event (Hebrews 10.25, noun – ἐπισυναγωγῆ). This is, Scripturally, exactly the same thing.
He is still risen.
J.C. Ryle said this in 1878, something to pause and ponder as we consider how excited we are about gathering as the church each week as part of our regular rhythms and routines, away from the high points of Christmas and Easter:
“How could that man enjoy the meeting of true Christians in Heaven — who takes no pleasure in meeting true Christians on earth?”