About a year ago, I told you our story about the sunrise Easter gathering that sprung up in our neighborhood. As a reminder, I have included a portion of that blog post below.
In that post I wrote: "Last Sunay was Easter. It was a big deal for Christians around the world. And rightly so! It is the day Jesus rose from the dead and unleashed His life and hope and powerful truth that is redeeming the world still today. Christians gather in churches everywhere for Easter services.
"For my family, Easter Sunday started a little differently this year. Instead of starting Easter in a church we started in an open green space by our home with about 55 neighbors from all over Westover Park (our subdivision down here in League City, Texas).
"Just before sunrise, we set up our lawn chairs facing East. As the first streaks of sunrise started painting the sky, we began a time of quiet worship with the words of the angel at the empty tomb (Matthew 28). We thanked Jesus for what He did and for what He is doing for us still today. We sang and prayed and blessed each other. We had the little children present their "resurrection eggs" (plastic eggs with a little item in it that helps retell the events of Holy Week). We then had a brief message reminding us that Jesus is alive and on the loose in Westover Park and that we, as neighbors, can encourage each other to live in the reality of that good news... especially when life gets hard and hectic. The whole thing took about 30 minutes. It was interesting to see how much excitement and reverence there was among the neighbors who gathered.
"Afterwards, about half of the neighbors then went to their own church services. But for the other half of the neighbors, this was "church". They had no other church services to go to on Easter. I realized afterwards that if they had not come to the neighborhood gathering, they would have missed Easter and the good news that it brings. We even had a couple people who were out for their morning exercise come by and join in!
"The sunrise was spectacular and God granted the miracle of keeping the mosquitos away. But what struck me the most was how eager people were to do this... to connect with neighbors in this setting... to cross this line together... to gather for more than food and fun, although that is always a good time too.
So a year from last Sunday, what would it take for you to have a similar Easter gathering in your neighborhood? Easter 2013 is March 31. What can you do starting now to be ready to have a gathering of neighbors remembering and giving thanks for the death, resurrection and ongoing activity of Jesus in your neighborhood?"
As you know, a year has nearly passed since last Easter. March 31 is now a little less than a month away. How might you invite your neighbors to come togehter for a simple gathering?
Here are a couple of tips:
1) Keep it simple: the point of the gathering is not to imitate the big celebrations of your local congregation but to invite neighbors to come together to be reminded of what happened on the first Easter and give thanks to Jesus.
2) Keep it small: we didn't intend to have so many people. Word just spread. We invited a few who invited a few, etc.Start with a few invitations and see what God does.
3) Keep it short: brief is better than long. Better to have a brief devotional gathering and a longer time of hanging out and conversation afterwards. Wouldn't you rather have them talking about how cool this was than how long it was?
3) The format is not as important as the gathering: inviting people to come together to ackowledge the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the big win. Whether you have a devotion, a Bible reading, a song, a prayer, use Resurrection Eggs (see the link below) or all of the above, remember the most important thing happening is the gathering of friends around the empty tomb.
4) See if other neighbors want to help: Don't be a Lone Ranger. Invite others to help with the gathering.
So, it's not too late to do this. Last year, our gathering happened when a neighbor brought it up to us on the Tuesday evening of Holy Week!
Pray, knock out a simple plan and start getting the word out: Your place, Easter morning.
Conctact me if you have any questions I can help sort out with you. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in finding out more about Resurrection Eggs, you can go to this link, http://shop.familylife.com/p-1717-resurrection-eggs.aspx