How serving at Easter can really make a difference // M-Note 3.16.24

I will never forget Easter 2008 at The Gathering. We decided to do something different. Instead of having Easter in our sanctuary, expecting people to come to us. We decided to go to people, and we celebrated Easter in Forest Park under the World’s Fair Pavilion. There were a lot of memorable moments from that day. We almost didn’t have any chairs, we underestimated how windy it would be, so our decorations were useless. To top it off, Easter was about as early as it can be that year and it snowed! But with all of these challenges, hundreds of people showed up. In parkas and mittens, blankets and gloves. So many folks had invited friends that parking was getting dicey, coffee was running dry, and we didn’t have enough volunteers. I was getting nervous about it all and it was right then that I met some first time visitors to The Gathering, Jerry and Ann.
They were in town for the holiday visiting their son who just recently started coming to The Gathering. They were very involved in their church back in Kansas City and were thrilled that their son invited them to his new church. We shook hands, I introduced myself, we exchanged a bit of small talk, but they could tell I was nervous. That’s when they did something that I will never forget.
“You know, Matt, we are greeters back at our church,” Ann said.
“And I often worked in the parking lot in the early days of our church.” Jerry chimed in. “Would you like us to help here?”
I wanted to say, “No, you are guests! Just come on in.” But the truth was I needed them. They sprang to action, threw on t-shirts, and Jerry put on an orange parking vest. They spent their first time at The Gathering serving outside in the snow on Easter morning. And, it was an incredible day for our church.
This story encapsulates so much of what I love about Easter. It is a time when so many of you invite friends and family to join us. It is a day of welcoming new people who might be looking for a new beginning or fresh start. It is a morning devoted to hope, something we all desperately need. It marks the turning of the seasons (even if it does snow) and marks the way towards change and new beginnings. It is a chance for those of us who have been around a while to serve others and make a place for them. Most of all, it is an opportunity to hear the good news that even in our darkest moments Jesus is alive and at work in our life.
This year, The Gathering continues the tradition of having Easter somewhere else, of not expecting people to come to us, but instead going to them. This year, we will celebrate Easter at The Factory at both 9 and 10:45am. Worship will include inspiring music, a hope-filled message, and a few fun surprises. The new space is incredible, and if you’ve never been, you are in for a treat. Parking is easy, the space is accessible, and we will have an awesome kids ministry (0-5 years old) at both services.
Most of all, though, it is a chance to tell others about The Gathering and invite them to join you for church. I hope you will take a moment right now and consider who might need a word of hope in their life, a fresh start, a shake-up of their routine, or just something different. Then, invite them to join you for Easter. You can find all the details here and share the word on social media. And, if you want to volunteer to serve, we would love that, and we think you will too.
Just last fall I was at a church in Kansas City speaking at a conference and guess who I ran into serving? Ann! We laughed, hugged, and talked about the time she and Jerry saved Easter at The Gathering. They were guests and they were serving, all at once. I told her how deeply I appreciate them, not just for what they did, but for the way they model following Jesus. I can’t wait to see what surprises Easter 2024 holds. Hopefully, it is full of new people, incredible memories, and no snow.
P.S. A team from The Gathering just landed in Mozambique yesterday and will be visiting villages and churches we have partnered with to dig wells for clean water. Pray for them and thank you to all of you that regularly give, allowing us to do so much life-changing work.
Posted in

No Comments