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Is An Empty Cross REALLY The Moment Of Celebration In The Story?

Easter is upon us.
Time for mass mailings, dropping dime on a few more lights and truss, and crushing about 5 more services than usual back.
Good Friday service where we rock it sad.
The Easter services where we celebrate the empty cross and add some brass to our services.
But was the empty cross actually the point of celebration in the story?
When I read it, I see a weapon of torture and gore, and one of the most disgusting devices ever created.
Before you go all Rob Bell on me, I’m not saying that it’s not good to remember the sacrifice He made for us.
IT IS ESSENTIAL.
But you must also remember what a cross is.
A weapon of death.
Yet we adorn it on the top of our churches and around our necks.
Ah how tradition numbs truth.

I was reading the Easter story (John 20) last night in my bunk and kept flipping back and forth between what happened when Martha found that tomb WIDE OPEN and what happens in our Easter services.
It’s almost like we need one more thought between Good Friday and Easter.
That confusion of what the crap just happened to my Savior?
HE WAS HERE!
NOW HE IS NOT!
WHO TOOK HIM?
We could do a flash mob service where someone kidnaps the pastor and the whole church scurries around town looking for him?
Nah.
But I think it is an important piece of the story that we, the church, fail to impress upon the 4224524 new people who come each Easter.
I get it…we want to get to the good news that He is ALIVE.
But I think the news tasted so much better with the “SIKE” moment that Mary, Simon Peter, and the other random unnamed disciple who sprinted to the tomb experienced.
I’d like to think his name was Carlos.
It went from utter desperation and grief from the cross to angst and anger of a robbery…
So, as we aim to disturb and disrupt our attenders this Easter…
Don’t forget that moment.
The moment Mary wanted to take a 2×4 to a thieves head and then saw the Lord.
That moment…in John 20:15-18, when she sees the Lord AFTER fearing He had been stolen, is the first time we see celebration.
NOT at the sight of the empty cross or an empty tomb.

I’m no seminary educated preacher…
It’s just what I see when I read it.
Seeing Jesus’ FACE was the moment of celebration.
Not seeing an empty cross or an empty tomb.
So before you install that next piece of truss or rehearse that next song…

Find the confusion that led to the satisfaction in the story.
It’s better that way…
Talk…
Los

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carloswhittaker@churchleaders.com'
Carlos Whittaker is an artist, pastor, thinker, experience architect, and social media junkie. Previously, 
Carlos served as Director of Service Programming at Buckhead Church in Atlanta, GA, one of the three campuses of North Point Community Church. Before that Carlos worked for 10 years as the Pastor of Worship and Creative Arts at Sandals Church in Riverside, CA. Carlos seeks to “disturb and disrupt the church as a whole.” He blogs prolifically at RagamuffinSoul.com.