During the past several years it seems as if Easter week and Masters Week have been close together. This year Easter week is followed by Masters, but in 2004, 2007 and 2009 the final day of the tournament fell on Easter Sunday.
The people of faith in Augusta struggled with what to do. Many people work when the Masters is in full bloom. Many have the only vacation week for the whole family and leave.
So what do we do on Easter Sunday? We know the story, many of us say. We know all the characters: Jesus, Judas, Peter, Mary and the other disciples. But do the story line and the characters still fascinate and intrigue as they did when we were children?
We "old churchgoers" get into spiritual ruts. Preachers, elders and deacons do as well. I wonder, being in Augusta, does the tabloid storyline of a particular golfer coming to town captivate us more than the "ol', ol' story of Jesus and His love"?
The Master's Tournament certainly does a lot for our community. When Augustans travel out of town we often say with pride, "Yes I live where they play that tournament. You know, the Masters."
The other day my 14-year-old daughter proudly showed me her green team shirt for a geography bee. She said, "we're called the Augusta Masters." She's lived here all her life
The golf story line changes every year, but the ol' ol' story stays the same. Or does it?
I recently had the joy of sharing the Easter story with two young boys who had never heard about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. One of the boys begged me, "Mr. Mike, don't ask me any questions "" I won't know the answer." But then the story, the one we allow to be overshadowed by golf and vacations, suddenly became vivid and exciting to them.
I simply used a dozen plastic eggs, each a different pastel color, each filled with a reminder of the Passion Week of Jesus. As I opened each egg, the boys, 9 and 11 years old, eagerly waited to see what was inside; eagerly waited to hear the story for the first time.
Each egg held a small plastic item to help visualize the story: money representing the 30 pieces of silver Judas accepted for betraying Jesus; a crown of thorns; a cup for the last supper; and then a spear that pierced the side of Jesus. I slowly and methodically took these boys through the story and began to ask questions. These boys, initially hesitant to be asked questions, knew the answers and knew the story.
These boys might not know anything about who is coming to town to play golf, but they know who came for all of us "" who came for those precious freckled-faced boys. When we came to the last egg, I opened it and it was empty. They asked "Mr. Mike, what's supposed to be in that egg?" I told them, "It's empty, isn't it? Just like the tomb!" Then I told them the story one more time.
This Easter, who needs to hear the story one more time? Who needs to hear the story for the first time? The story of Easter is more intriguing and more meaningful than any other story in history. The truth of that day and Jesus is more important than any sporting event, vacation or job.
So, Christians out there, tell the "ol', ol' story" again but, like little children, see it with new eyes. Let this Easter, from sunrise to sunset, be focused on the cross and the empty tomb.
May the storyline in Martinez, Evans and Augusta be of Jesus and His love.
(Mike Klaus is the senior minister at Columbia County Christian Church.)
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