“We have to go move the chairs. It’s Easter — the holiday of moving chairs . . . and talking about Jesus,” my youngest explains to his friend as I herd my kids into the car.
“What?” I ask, thinking that there are a thousand other ways to talk about the highest holy day on the church calendar. Moving chairs?
“Yeah, mom,” he answers grinning. “Jesus comes back to life; so we have to go move all the chairs!”
Well, I can’t really argue with him.
You see, our little suburban church is pretty full on any given Sunday. But on Easter? It is packed. And that means we need extra seats. So he’s right. We move the chairs — all of the chairs in the whole church go into the gym for Easter Sunday service.
My kids know the drill. They have spent years listening to all of the church dads give directions, pass out donuts, and insist on perfectly lined up rows. They are expert “chair- setter- uppers.” And so yes, Easter is the holiday where we move all the chairs.
But, before you begin picturing how holy and helpful we are. Know that every year we have this same conversation: “Why? Why do we have to move all these chairs? Why can’t someone else do all this work?” Yeah. Being those who make room for others to see Jesus isn’t always easy. And I get it. I can so quickly get lost in the work of it all.
Chairs bang and clang against the gym floor as this story from Scripture paints its way into my mind.
“Do you love me?” I hear Jesus ask it of Peter, three times. And three times Peter answers, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
“Feed my sheep,” Jesus tells Peter. (John 21:17)
The kids and the dads have filled the room, wall to wall with empty chairs. And I hear the Spirit whisper it again. “Do you love me? Then feed my sheep.”
I get right lost in the work of setting up the chairs, rehearsing all the songs, hiding the eggs; of getting this Easter thing just right.
But God? God sees the people. He sees the ones who will come through the doors under the steeple in freshly pressed dresses and suits, the ones who will struggle to wipe jelly bean stains from the hands of their littles, and shush the whining of slouching teenagers. The ones who rush in late and wonder if they belong, and the ones who will smile to hide the heartbreak crushing them inside.
And me. He sees me, right there among them, worried about doing it all right, about getting the work done.
Just help them find a seat, that’s all you need to do, God whispers to my anxious heart. I died and rose again for each one of them, and for you. Just sit down.
And slowly, I start to understand the why of all the work.
You see, in those chairs, the very ones hauled down the stairs by tired dads and goofy kids, God’s creation will sit. And as the sun casts long shadows across the gym floor and the music notes fill the air, God will do what He does best. He will speak with His people.
Like Mary Magdalene in the garden early that first Easter morning, He will come close enough to see right into our hearts and ask, “Who are you looking for?” (John 20:15)
And maybe in the sanctuary of Easter morning worship, maybe each of God’s sheep in all of these chairs will hear the sound that changes everything.
For Mary, it was her name.
“Mary,” Jesus said as she stood weeping and broken over the empty tomb. And that was when she knew. She raced back to the disciples barely able to contain her excitement. “I have seen the Lord!” she declared (John 20:16-18).
Just sit and watch me work, God whispers. In a gym on a suburban corner this Easter morning, the Holy One will draw near to those He loves.
And so we work. We are Easter people who move chairs, sing songs, say words, clasp hands, and feed sheep because He first loved us. We have come to know that the sound of our name on His lips changes everything.
And there is nothing sweeter than watching God move in and claim His own; one chair at a time.Leave a Comment
Dodee A Green says
Wow! That was awesome, I am a ‘get it right’s girl also, so this especially rebounded with me! It gave me goose bumps!
So glad that it spoke to you! Thank you for reading!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Absolutely beautiful! I love seeing Easter (or any holiday from a child’s perspective), but he saw the most important thing – that you were making room for HIS sheep. When we are running around like whirling dervishes, God whispers, like you said, “Sit down and watch Me work.” We may do the preparing, but He does the heart transformations. He is the surgeon. We merely prep for the surgery. It took my breath away how in all the banging and clanging chairs, you still heard His still, small voice. Oh, that we would all listen for His voice….
Yes! That is what I often forget– in the midst of all the busyness– God is actually the one at work, not me. And when we stop and see it– it truly does take our breath away! Blessings on you Holy Week and Happy Easter!
I’m so thankful for this time of and season to celebrate the death and resurrection of the lord. I cannot wrap my mind around the love that is extended and it never runs out no matter where I am or what I do his love endures forever..
Search my heart oh God and create and right spirit within me. Help me to not go off course. Keeping my eyes forcused upon you and you alone.
Amen! Blessings on this Holy Week!
I can echo it with you, I’d been there and done that. Worked extra hard, coming earlier and last ones to leave. Looking back, I want to say with no regrets that I was given a chance to arrange chairs where one or more souls on Easter could be touched by His profound love for each one of us. A timely reminder that even if I have to do it all over again, it’s so worth it because He First Loved us. Thank you for the beautiful sharing. Shalom! 🙂
Yes! It is exhausting and overwhelming at times… but so worth it. He loves us so, and it is a gift to be able to share it and watch him work! Happy Easter to you!
Yes, it was 🙂
Happy Easter to you and all your love ones <3
Michele Morin says
The message that is coming through to me loud and clear this Easter is that those Sunday morning women did not show up at the tomb with the idea that they would become part of a huge doctrinal event or a major triumph of the Christian faith. They showed up faithful to attend to the body of a dead friend.
I want to be that kind of Sunday morning woman who tends to the details of a messy church life.
The truth is, when we show up, we never know what amazing miracles may happen!
Fantastic! I just shared this on facebook. It is so simple, yet moving! Thank you for sharing.
Thank you Adria! Blessings on your Holy Week and Happy Easter to you!
Sabrina Templin says
Thank you! 🙂 May you have a blessed Easter.
Nancy Brummett says
Beautiful, Leigh. Such a good reminder that we believers need to focus less on finding a seat for ourselves and more on finding a seat for others! Have a glorious Easter. And I LOVE your (not so little!) suburban church. (Congrats on the post on (in)courage!)
Thank you Nancy! Happy Easter to you as well!
Rebecca L Jones says
I think it a good time to be remaining in His rest. We tend to struggle and organize and perfect, but really, He’s the only perfect one.
Beth Negrey says
So true — I know I often think it’s necessary for me to do so much more, when it’s our Lord who really does it all. Everyone have a most Blessed and Happy Easter. He is risen! He is risen, indeed!
Liz Bolton says
My 12 year olds were in the car (seems we always TALK in the car). I was explaining Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, what it must have been like at the last supper, Good Friday, Jesus’ last words & I choked up, couldn’t go on. It really touched my heart what our Lord has done for us all. When I finished talking, they said, “wow, mom”. Yeah, wow! Thank you for reminding us again what God wants from us. Thank you for helping us “see”.
Beth Williams says
May we always be Easter people willing to do the work to plant seeds and then sit back and watch His transforming work. We need to be faithful to feed His sheep, but not get so busy we don’t hear His voice or forget what He’s done. I want to be the kind of Christian who is there for friends-who gets into their messy lives to show God’s love. By doing this we just might witness a miracle!
Lane Henderson says
Leigh, it’s hard to put into words the impact that your words in this Easter devotional have made on me. God meeting his creation in those chairs, and the people with jelly beans, hurting hearts and uncertainty that they belong in an Easter service– perfectly describe how God welcomes us all. I will miss being in the Eastminster chairs with you this year but celebrate with Easter people in NJ! Thank you, Leigh.
Oh Lane! Will truly miss seeing your smiling face in the congregation on Sunday! Praying Easter blessings on you and Sam and all of the people who fill the chairs of your church in NJ. Hugs to you and Sam!