Hello, all! Whether you call this coming holiday Easter or Resurrection Day, one thing cannot be denied: spring has arrived. Though up here in Arcadia we may still shiver under the threat of late frosts and rain that’s still a little too solid, the transition out of winter’s grasp is being made at long last.
As I’m writing this, the day is gloriously warm. I’ve even got the windows open and am not wearing a sweater! (Those who know me well will comprehend the gobsmacking significance of this) The air is practically balmy, with a whisper of thunder on the horizon, and earlier this afternoon I couldn’t help but walk around the property and marvel at all the new growth in our gardens. The peach trees are budding and new leaves are popping out of the butterfly bush. The daffodils are in their glory and the burgundy peony shoots are poking out of the mulch. Everywhere you look the earth is waking up and coming to life.
Which is one of the reasons I think the Christian community chose to celebrate the resurrection of Christ in spring, or at least why the two go so well together. We’ve been hunkered down in the cold and darkness all winter, starving for light and life—a poignant image of our lives before Christ and of his death and resurrection. This is the event we Christians hang our faith on, for, if Jesus didn’t rise from the grave, we have nothing and are ‘among men the most pitiable’. 1 Corinthians 15: 13-19
But Jesus did rise from the dead! He triumphed over sin and death, making the way for us to overcome our own sins and live in his righteousness. What wonderful news! This is the most joyous of holidays, the most victorious season, and I am so glad that I can celebrate more than just the blooming flowers. The very picture of seeds being buried in the ground and then rising to new life, blossoming in abundant beauty, sings of the Gospel. Of the good news that Jesus lived, died, and rose again, and now offers each of us to share in his abundant life.
That’s better than all the egg hunts and chocolate bunnies in the world.
Not that we haven’t had our share of egg hunts and chocolate bunnies. In fact, they constitute a large portion of my childhood memories of Easter. When my brothers and I were small, our parents used to hide goodie baskets around the house. They’d write up clues for each of us to follow in order to find our respective treasures—like Christmas in April. Then when we went to our grandparents’ house, the adults would set up a grand egg hunt throughout their property, and after dinner the three of us spent the afternoon hounding them out. In the evening we’d crack open all those plastic eggs for the Hershey’s Kisses and fun-size candy bars tucked inside. I remember those years fondly, and though we haven’t done one in ages now that we’re all grown, the next generation has begun.
Oakley Quinn, my wee acorn, will be getting egg hunts at great grandpa and grandma’s house.
But goodie baskets and egg hunts aren’t the only memories I have of Easter as a kid. The church body we were a part of back then would have what they called ‘sunrise service’, hosted outside at a park (or campground. I can’t actually remember where!😅) Every year we would get up early and go to that service. It was always cold, but Mom and Da would bundle us up in blankets on those bench pews. And there was usually hot cocoa involved, too.
While I might not remember much about the messages on those mornings, and though I might not have enjoyed going to church at that particular time, I can recall that experience now and appreciate the value and impact it had. No matter what we did with family the rest of the day, we started it by remembering why we’re celebrating in the first place. By remembering that we have a reason to celebrate at all. That has laid the foundation for how I view Easter ever since, grounding me in the truth that while egg hunts are fun and chocolate bunnies are delicious, its not about those things. It’s about Jesus and what he did for me. For everyone, yes, but also specifically me.
And for you.
Today is Good Friday, arguably one of the roughest days of the year as we observe the crucifixion of Christ. This is not a joyful occasion, but without it, without Jesus’ sacrifice as the sinless lamb, we have no forgiveness. Without Friday, there’s no resounding triumph on Sunday. So we remember, and we pray, and we wait.
Because on the third day, the stone was rolled away, and though they sought him they did not find him, for he was in the tomb no longer.
HE IS RISEN!
So, whether you celebrate in quiet afternoons with family like we do here nowadays or bustle about with egg baskets, I pray that you will take a moment and remember the hope we have that’s reflected in the burgeoning growth around us. Jesus died to pay for our sins and rose again that we might have new life in him.
Amen and amen!