Lent is over- Easter has come. We’re now a couple weeks into the Easter Season. Most people think of Easter as one great big Sunday. In the Christian church we think of Easter as just the beginning of the Easter Season. The Easter season lasts for seven Sundays. Just as Lent leads to the Easter season, the Easter season leads to the celebration of Pentecost. I’m not wanting to get “in the weeds” about Christian calendars or religious traditions, I just wanted to explain why I’m still in this Easter mindset. I shared a lot of thoughts about Lent over the last couple of months and I want to wrap that all up. My focus during the Lent season was taking an honest look at the idea of darkness (sin, negativity, pain) and how it infiltrates our lives so thoroughly that we have a hard time recognizing it. You know how life is, you set out on a journey or a time or reflection without ever knowing what’s going to happen along the way, even if you hit your desired destination. There’s always something to learn.
How does Easter change things? Let me start off by saying Easter changes everything. Easter symbolizes new life, new beginnings, new starts. Just as winter, seasons of loss, and all types of endings are necessary and natural, new beginnings sometimes brings relief and renewal. Forced new beginnings don’t always feel good. When I’m forced into a change I didn’t choose to make, I am often resistant and resentful of it. That’s how life rolls. The one thing I try to always be thankful for is the opportunity that comes from new starts. While I don’t always like the changes that life forces me into, I try to be thankful for the opportunity of change, the dynamic nature of life, that fact that opportunities for restarts do exist. I get challenged to think differently, see things from different perspectives, many times getting reacquainted with the maturity and humility required in learning to be a cheerful giver and a thankful receiver. These universal life lessons cycle around over and over.
I want to say just a few things about Easter. It’s not my intention to get into a big theological conversation about why Easter “had to happen,” or “did Jesus have to die.” There are other places where that is discussed and frankly there is plenty of wisdom to be found in all parts of the story. I believe that Jesus was the Son of God, he came to earth to show us what God’s love looked like in the flesh. I believe that Jesus made a lot of people uncomfortable with his teachings and people plotted against him to “shut him up.” Jesus was seen as a threat to the government and the church that he considered himself a part of. Jesus did lots of good things for many people and he taught about God’s love. Jesus was betrayed and denied by people he considered friends and he died from a horribly painful execution. Believers in Jesus hold dear the belief that Jesus was resurrected from the dead 3 days after his execution, and that is the bedrock of the Christian faith. It’s the reason why most Christian churches worship on Sundays, because that was the day in which Jesus was raised from the dead.
There are a lot of details to the Easter story. There have been countless retellings, reenactments, songs, poems and stories around this. There are many key lessons that I’m glad that I’ve learned.
- It’s good to know that the Lord understands how I feel when loved ones betray me. It happens to us all.
- It’s good to know that the Lord understands how it feels when I’m distraught, and despite their best efforts, the members of my support system aren’t always enough.
- It’s good to know that the Lord understands how I feel when I’m begging and pouring out my soul in hopes that a heart-breaking situation will just disappear.
- It’s good to know that the Lord understands what it feels like when others dislike me because they view me as a threat to how they believe, and they do deliberate things to hurt me.
- It’s good to know that the Lord understands the agony of when I cry out and feel like I’ve been abandoned by Him.
- It’s good to know that as I visit with a loved one with an unsure future that the Lord understands the feelings humans have when facing death and can comfort them.
- It’s good to know that when I’m confronted with my bad deeds, I can look into the face of God and say, “I don’t deserve forgiveness, I’ve done so much wrong, but please have mercy.” Then I hear back from him, “You’re worth it to me, and I’m going to redeem you.”
- It’s good to know that though my body will be one day committed to a grave, it doesn’t have to be the end of my story. The way I lived and loved will continue to dwell in the hearts of others long after my heart ceases to beat.
A couple weeks ago in church our worship leader sang an old song called “I Don’t Know About Tomorrow.” It made me think about the idea of “tomorrow.” For most of us in the congregation tomorrow was Monday, we had to go back to work. But there was someone in the world who tomorrow would be facing surgery. For others, Monday would be the court date for their divorce. There were some who tomorrow will bury their father. Others will be finalizing the paperwork for their bankruptcy. Someone would undoubtedly lose their best friend that day. Monday would be someone’s best day and someone else’s worst day. Whether your next new beginning/new start/personal Easter is forced on you or chosen by you, it’s good to know that the Lord understands rejection, grief, attack, betrayal, and abandonment. The promise of Easter is no matter how cold and lonely you find yourself as you’re trapped in a tomb, in a little while God is going to open the door and then you will have the option to walk out.
“While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” (Luke 24:36)