Welcome to the worship service of the Christians who assemble at North Second Street. If you are a visitor, you may be surprised to know we do not observe Easter as a religious holiday. If you came to see a passion play acted out by our members, you may be disappointed. If it seems like all we are doing is conducting our regular worship service, you are right! Our desire is to worship God through his Son and be filled with the Spirit every time we come together as a church. Please allow me to explain.
Indulge me by answering two questions. 1) Did God create us? 2) Does God know how to communicate his will for people in a way we can understand? If you answered “Yes.” to both questions, it follows that individual Christians and churches can know God’s will because he revealed it to us (I Corinthians 2:12-13; II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:21). This may seem simplistic, but we believe Jesus built his church and sent the Holy Spirit to reveal everything we need to know to worship God in the way he desires.
As servants of the Son of God we defer to our Lord Jesus, the head of the church, as our one and only authority for Christian worship. So, what did the Spirit reveal when Christ sent him to deliver all truth (John 16:13)? The inspired apostles instructed Christians to worship God on the first day of the week (what we call Sunday). The churches of the New Testament ate the Lord’s supper, sang, prayed, gave, and taught on every first day of the week (Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1-2).
So, where is the annual celebration of Easter (or Christmas)? It is not to be found in Scripture. There is no command to hold any yearly feast in the New Testament. God neither instructed us nor do we see the example of any apostle observing Easter in the entire Bible. So, let’s get back to that simplistic principle. If God wanted us to have an Easter celebration, could he have communicated that to us? If God didn’t mention it, does it please him for me to worship in his name in a way he did not authorize (Colossians 3:17; II Thessalonians 2:15)? How can we be united as a church in a practice not found in Scripture? We can not. In fact, the Christian world does not agree on the occasion or method for observing Easter. In America, the date for the holiday is handed down by the Roman Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church will celebrate Easter on May the second in 2021. Where there is no clear instruction from God, it is impossible for us to, “maintain the unity of the Spirit”-Ephesians 4:3.
More importantly, we are missing the point of our weekly worship! Christians assemble on Sunday to glorify God for resurrecting Jesus on that day? How do we know when he arose (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:9; John 20:1)? The Bible tells me so! “But on the first day of the week…they went to the tomb…but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”-Luke 24:1-3. Can we know the day when Jesus rose from the dead? Amen. Should we not worship what we know? Amen.
The writings of the earliest Christians reinforce this idea. Greek philosopher and disciple of Christ, Justin Martyr, wrote a defense of Christianity to Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius in AD 155. He described the early church’s day of worship this way, “But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because…Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead1.”
The Bible teaches us to worship on the first day of the week. The apostle John called it, “the Lord’s day”-Revelation 1:10, because Jesus’ resurrection sanctified Sunday as the holy day of celebrating his victory over the grave. When every Sunday dawns, “He is risen!” Welcome to our weekly celebration of Christ’s victory over death!