The Second Sunday of Easter, or Low-Attendance Sunday

The Sunday following Easter is known in the trade as "National Assistant Pastor’s Day" because pastors who are fortunate enough to have assistants normally pawn off the preaching duties off to them that Sunday. As they do the Sunday closest to Christmas.  

You see, the hours during Holy Week can be long for lead pastors, and generally, while Easter Sunday is often the most well-attended service of the year and so he or she is expected to deliver the message, the Sunday after Easter is generally not well-attended and it becomes the day for lead pastors – and parishioners – to take a bit of a breather. 

This downtime after Easter isn't necessarily something to lament, just something that is. In fact, even the unintentional rhythms of life can be holy and alive with God’s glory! So, this isn't a roundabout way of saying that because I don't have an assistant pastor and don't get a break then neither do you so see you tomorrow! 

No. I think it's wonderful to have certain Sundays that are thought of as the "big events" of the year and in a city like Portland the fact that some of those who showed up last Sunday might not come back until next Easter is not something to be merely-tolerated but embraced. Perhaps we should consider whether we’re the ones being tolerated and be grateful that in a post-Christian context someone who doesn’t normally attend church and who is perhaps suspicious of the church’s diminished but continuing role in civic life would still choose to show up and share Easter Sunday with us.

In my view this is an extraordinary privilege and I’m delighted to open the doors to someone whether Intown is their home, they’re traveling and just passing through, or they come every once in a while.

But, for those of us for whom Easter is a special but not a completely irregular day in the rhythms of our life, I do think it's important to ask concerning Easter – so what? How does what we celebrated last Sunday inform our daily lives the other 364 days of the year? 

This is a far bigger question than can be determined by whether you choose to show up for church tomorrow, or the following week and if you need a break, take one. But, if at the center of Christianity is something as incredible – meaning not only spectacular but in-credible, or difficult to believe – then doesn’t it seem necessary at some level to embed ourselves as deeply as possible into a community that believes that this incredible event is true? How can we be expected to believe something like Jesus’ resurrection, which implies our own, without hearing it rehearsed every Sunday (or at least most of them!) And, surely to begin to consider how to embody and practice a belief in a resurrected Jesus we need the plausibility structure of a relational community that is also attempting to figure this out.

For the next two weeks (this was written on Saturday the 27th) we're going to be talking about resurrection-the-rest-of-the-year and I do hope you can join us. But, I also hope that over time each of us can jettison the whole concept of “church attendance” and instead figure out what it is that we want out of life – particularly our spiritual life – and how the rhythms of Intown as our primary community would inspire rather than demand our regular participation. Joining your spiritual family for worship on Sunday mornings should be as little about compulsion as possible – seriously, no one is checking role at Intown! – but something you value because you want to continue discovering what it means to be holistically and foundationally Christian.