Curing Post 'Pardon' Depression
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV)
Shortly after Easter, I received a wonderful note from a mentor and dear friend. He had seen pictures and praises on social media following our Easter services, including our wonderful time of “fellowshipping” (as we Baptists say) with new and old friends at our ‘Cracker Barrel®-esque’ sized breakfast between the two worship services. He attached a blog from a well-intentioned best-selling author and pastor of one of those really cool mega-churches. You know the ones with giant screens projecting larger than life sized speakers, dazzling lights, and electric guitars, drums, keyboards, etc…, that a lot of Millennials are flocking to, to be entertained, fed, and/or connected with mostly like minded, socially, racially & economically cultured other Millennials. This pastor remarked that he didn’t know how my Easter service went, but he had a hunch.
“It was bigger than normal,” he hypothesized, “but less than breakthrough.” It was good, he said, but not great, and that my attendance “was large, but not staggering; worth being happy about, but not writing home about.” Finally he sympathized that more than likely, I was experiencing a bit of a letdown. He went on with an obvious notion that we pastors of small churches and church plants needed a pep talk. He itemized several good things, that probably most of us ‘little guys’ had in common (i.e. we prayed, preached the Gospel,invited unchurched friends, did the best we could, etc.) and then commended us with a resounding “Good job!” I know it wasn’t meant to be condescending in any way, shape or form, but because of my own personal baggage (A colleague from New York City once referred to my beautiful city of Richmond, VA as a ‘small town.’), I always feel a little patronized when folks at giant organizations make observations about we ‘Davids’ (or at least that’s who we ‘fixer upper’ church pastors see when we look in our rose colored mirrors).
Sure enough, as he predicted, the following Sunday was relatively dismal with regard to attendance (with less than half of our Easter crowd). As he observed, Easter was bigger than normal (OK, you don’t need a PhD to figure that one out) and he was even pretty spot on that the crowd size was good but not great, large, but not staggering and worth being happy about, but not writing home about. But what he misjudged was my post-Easter emotional state. This undoubtedly gifted mega-church pastor seemed certain, there was “a bit of a letdown,” and assumed I wanted “so much more.” I shared this with my friend and mentor, and then I shared why I was ‘not’ let down, but more optimistic and joyful than ever. It wasn’t ‘how’ many came, but ‘who’ came, that filled my heart with joy. This included:
*A husband & father, who only a month prior, I had stood beside his hospital bed and prayed fervently as he lay in a coma following a massive stroke.
*A man, whose personal feelings had been hurt so badly by a former church leader, that he vowed 'never to come back,' and yet returned and honored Jesus with his God-given musical talent.
*The young bride and little baby of one of our servicemen who has been deployed, and who was surrounded and supported by 'his' family.
*A young married couple who have recently taken on the responsibility of a foster child. (Despite the popular opinion of we ‘geezer’ types, not all those Millennials only think about themselves.)
*A senior member who was vocally apprehensive when I was called as senior pastor, but who is now one of my strongest supporters and one of our greatest servant leaders.
*And several young folks who grew up in our church and who are now ‘all grown up,’ including a little girl my wife & I plucked out of an overcrowded Russian orphanage and adopted over 20 years ago.
Now that’s the kind of stuff that cures post Easter blues or what I call Post ‘Pardon’ Depression, the day my God gave me one more day to share His love and how He ‘pardoned’ our sins through the sacrificial death and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ.