Easter Sunday was one of the highlights of the year so far. It may be unusual to say that, given it is the highest celebration in the Church calendar, but it is easy to slip into taking it for granted when we remember the Resurrection every day as Christians. But, this Easter Sunday, we had a fantastic atmosphere of friends and strangers talking, laughing, and generally enjoying the opportunity to be part of what is known as Church: the family of God.
On one level, it takes a lot to make that happen. There are the preparations and organising for everything around services, music, discussions, hospitality, decorations, processions, gatherings and events (countryside walks, spring bonfires, film nights with popcorn etc.…), cleaning up afterwards (the unseen jobs some forget need doing!), the day-to-day regular things which do not go away, all wrapped up in the welcoming of people to a place where exploring new things and approaches to faith and life is actively encouraged.
But, regardless of how much effort is put into these things by us as human beings, none of it would come to fruition if it was not meant to. None of it would happen unless it was from a source infinitely greater than us. None of it would be allowed to work or even get off the ground as an idea if it was not created by a source which both inspires us and drives us.
Whatever efforts we put into things, when they are only ever of our own doing then the only outcome is to pat ourselves on the back or seek our own satisfaction. Doing that has little meaning when the outcome we are seeking is to build community.
When a community comes together, it is not for their own existence but because a wider purpose has been identified for which the community can be part. When this happens and the group works together, it becomes what Rowan Williams described as 'seeing what God is doing and joining in': God does things in the world before we even recognise them, and then when we realise how amazing it is to be part of it, the community experiences something far greater than just itself.
The true joy of the Resurrection experienced in churches around the world is realising that when things come together in a beautiful way, when all the ideas and plans we have 'fit', or even get changed into something better than we hoped for, it is because God draws us together in that. It is not our own efforts or our own planning and work which makes something a success, it is if we see where God is and let ourselves be part of that.