PASTOR'S PEN: Responding to Easter visitors

This past weekend, Easter services were full of people who haven’t stepped foot in a church since December or even last spring. How will you respond to their coming?

Some will respond with a haughty attitude. They will look down in disdain upon those whom they are certain will not return until the celebration of Christ’s birth. Their will be thoughts similar to these:

“I’m not sure why we accommodate those people.”

“I don’t know why they bother coming. They won’t be back again anyway.”

“They’re only here to please their mother.”

This is like the response of the older brother in the parable of the lost or prodigal son. The younger brother returns from a venture of taking his inheritance before his father’s death and then spending it frivolously. It’s most certainly a slap in his father’s face and a terrible decision. The older brother, who had stayed and served his father, refuses to have anything to do with his younger brother. He is furious that anyone would be joyous about the return of one so unrighteous and unfaithful. He refuses to have any part of his brother’s return party. Perhaps this is your response to the Easter crowd. Yet this isn’t how God would have us respond.

Our response, instead, should be like that of the father of the younger brother. What did He do? He saw his son coming from a long way off “and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” I’m not suggesting we kiss those who have been gone for a long time, but that we should rejoice with them when they return. The father was not ignorant of his son’s iniquity, yet he still celebrated his homecoming. Rather than sit back in judgment and question motives, we should be thrilled for those who have come out — even if only once a year.

In fact, I suggest reaching out to them this week. If someone had been gone for a bit of time and returned over Easter, send a card or call them letting that person know you were glad they were at church. Don’t pressure them to come to other things, but rejoice in what has happened already. You may even invite them to dinner to catch up on their life.

The parable of the lost or prodigal son gives us a guideline for our response to others. Rather than sitting back with a smug look, respond the way God responds to those who return — with compassion and rejoicing.

To learn more about The Lost Son, read Luke 15:11-32