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I want to begin celebrating Easter the right way.

When I was little we didn’t celebrate Easter.  I didn’t receive an Easter basket until I was in high school and I don’t remember my older brothers every receiving Easter baskets.  It’s not that my parents were opposed to Easter, it was not an evil to be avoided, it’s just that the celebration of Easter wasn’t important.  Spending money on eggs and baskets was not a priority.  And since we were apart of a church fellowship that practiced the Eucharist weekly, taking one weekend out of the year to focus on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ seemed like an overkill when we did it on a weekly basis.  And so I went through my growing up years with Easter just being another day, just like every other Sunday.  It was a day to worship God, a day to partake of the body and blood of Jesus, a day to fellowship with other believers, but nothing too special.

I want to begin celebrating Easter the right way.

As I got older I started to focus more on Easter, coming to understand that unlike Christmas, when we have no idea when Jesus was really born, we do have an idea of when he died.  Jesus died during the Passover.  And while we may argue over whose calendar is correct, it is a date that can be nailed down more easily.  So I started celebrating Easter.  I started taking time to remember the death of my Lord.  I participated in a couple of sunrise services. I tried to tell my children that Easter was more than just eggs and candy and pretty dresses, but it was a time when we could remember and celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  The Eucharist on Easter Sunday took on more meaning as I focused my mind on the celebration of new life in Christ.  And as I began to preach more I started having the opportunity to preach Easter Sunday and the magnitude of trying to bring a Word from the Lord about the Resurrection to encourage a congregation to be more like Christ helped to spring up within me a deeper longing and appreciation for Easter.  I’m growing to enjoy this celebration more and more.

But I want to begin celebrating Easter the right way.

Because I’m not exactly sure I’ve figured it out yet.  What exactly does the empty tomb mean?  Often, in our theology, we focus heavily on the cross, on the death of Jesus, on his taking our sins upon him, on him shedding his blood and dying on a tree to pay the punishment for my sins. Yet Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, that even though the cross is important, without the resurrection there is no forgiveness of sins.  Without the resurrection our faith is futile.  Without the resurrection we have no hope and our faith makes no sense. But thanks be to God there is a resurrection.  Jesus rose from the grave on Easter morning, the first fruits of all of our resurrections.  Jesus conquered death and with it sin when the tomb was empty.  Jesus proved he is Lord of all because not even the tomb can hold him or keep him down.  The empty tomb brings hope, and peace, and meaning to life.

I want to begin celebrating Easter the right way.

I want to relish in the empty tomb.  I want to celebrate that Easter morning was real.  I want to rejoice that even though death is painful it is not the end.  I want to thank God that he did not allow the curse of sin, the ultimate enemy death, to reign in this world.  But instead, he sent his Son to live and die, and more importantly to rise from the grave and in so doing break sin’s curse upon my life.  I want to proclaim, just like the early church did, the message and truth and joy of the resurrection.  To see the truth of the resurrection set the world free to live as they were created to live. I want to live in the reality that Jesus is Lord, that he reigns on the throne and that he demands ultimate allegiance, and that I will honor him with every ounce of my being no matter what the cost.

I want to begin celebrating Easter the right way.