Friday, December 21, 2007

Give me Easter over Christmas

Ever listen to pastors talk about the difference between weddings and funerals? You'd think any pastor would love the celebratory nature of a wedding versus the grief of a funeral. But most would say just the opposite. Weddings come with so much more than two people making a holy vow before God. Weddings are a major industry, especially in a destination location like Santa Barbara. 
Planning for a wedding morphs into a major tactical exercise, with florists, coordinators, caterers, dj's, photographers and divergent family traditions of the right way to do it. With less and less of the population being regular church-goers, pastors' advice becomes a marginalized and tolerated necessity. 
But with a funeral, the issues are clear-cut and there is something clarifying about death. Death lends itself to speak of ultimate issues with a minimum of fanfare and pomp. Oh, they can go over-the-top, but less likely than with a wedding. Pastoral presence and great words from Scripture satisfy like nothing else at times of death.
Christmas has a tendency to morph into over-the-top cultural expressions and events. Too much money, too much food, too much drinking, too much of everything. Where's the baby? Where's the quiet and the simple amidst all the lush decorations? 
Easter is clearer and less entangled in the marketplace and culture. Like death, it lends itself to the ultimate and is less distractable. I pray for myself and other pastors and worship leaders during these next few days to have their focus clear and simple. God entered our world and subjected himself to our culture for our redemption.


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