Easter & Masters
For Christians, this past week has been our Holy Week. Its been the same for golf fans as well the time of year when the sports world turns its focus to a piece of land at the corner of Washington and Berkmans road and to the Master Golf Tournament. I’m not a golfer, although I do play one on TV. I’m afraid that my eye-hand coordination would make me hazard to others around me. But I do appreciate the game and I appreciate even more the role that Augusta plays in the dreams of golf aficionados.
Drive down Washington Road and as soon as you past the turn off for I-20 you begin seeing all the signs: Tickets wanted, any day. Practice round needed. I came from Detroit just need one ticket. If you are one of the chosen, as you walk to the Augusta National Golf Club, people are all around you, holding up one finger, two fingers, indicating the number of tickets they need. And you pass right by them all, because you’ve got the Golden Ticket that lets you in a place so many only dream about.
The exclusivity of the Masters is part of the allure; to be on the inside rather than the outside looking in. But since this past week has been our Holy Week, I’ve had a different take on our little tournament. What if you had a badge for the Masters and as you passed by all these people holding up their hands, saying I just need one ticket, what if you could say to them, I have your ticket right here. Come on in. You’re going to the Masters.
The holy week of golf in Augusta is about who can get in and cant. But our Holy Week as Christians has been about one man, our Master Jesus Christ. Jesus isn’t about exclusivity but inclusivity. Jesus isn’t about keeping people out but bringing people in; Jesus who is able to say to each of us, I have your ticket right here. Come on in. You’re going with the Master. That’s the invitation of Easter, to walk with Jesus, the Risen Lord.
If a golf lover was given the opportunity to go to the Masters they would jump at the opportunity. But when we are given the opportunity to walk with the Master, the reaction is somewhat different. Hesitation.
Maybe we hesitate because were a bit like Groucho Marks who said, I would never want to belong to a club that would have me as a member. Ever feel that way about yourself? If you have, then welcome to my world. I’ve loved the couple of times I’ve been to the Masters but at the same time I also felt like a trespasser, someone who didn’t really belong. Because I don’t play golf, I don’t have any of the neat togs that golf patrons seem to have. I sometimes feel like a candidate for one of those make over shows when I compare myself to the glamour that surrounds me there.
And then there is the experience of never knowing exactly whats going on. Although I can recognize some of the players, I don’t know their stats like people around me. Ill be at one hole and then somewhere, from across the course, Ill hear a huge roar from the crowd and wonder, What happened? I’ll wonder, “What have I missed?”
For more than one person here what I’ve just described is not a golf tournament but their experience of coming to church. Were not sure we have the right clothes, we have no idea what everybody is talking about or if John 3:16 is some kind of funky golf score and when people are shouting, Christ has risen, the Lord has risen indeed, we wonder, what happened? What have I missed? And if you think I’ve just described a newcomers experience with the church, I’ve also just described the experience of the first Easter morning, when no one really knew what was going on, only that something had happened. Some people like Mary, got the message almost immediately, but if you read through the resurrection stories, you’ll realize that many people didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. You and I are in good company when it comes to encountering the Easter experience with questions as well as awe and wonder.
This morning you are exactly where you need to be at this moment. Some of you are here because a friend or family member said you should come. Some of you are here because a little voice in your heart said you should be here. However you have come here this morning, know that you are here because of Jesus, who has personally invited you here just as you are. And you don’t have to worry about what you are wearing or what you may or may not know because it is Jesus who has said to you, I’ve got your ticket. Come on in. You’re going with the Master. Doesn’t that change everything?
My Easter invitation to you is to come on in you are with the Master, the one who loves you, the one who redeems you, the one who saves you. Revel in that relationship the Master will teach you what you need to know. And know that you are in a roomful of fellow learners, who are also being instructed by the Master. And the roar of the crowd its a roar of welcome for the Messiah, the Master. Its a roar of welcome for you.