The climactic moment of the Christian year occurred two days ago. Easter: the event / day that started the religious movement which eventually became known as Christianity. More simply said, without Easter, there would be no Christian church. It is the day we focus on celebrating with all our energy, the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
In a church, Easter feels a lot like a big balloon. Things gradually get busier and busier – special studies, events for kids, frantic “clean-up” activities, extra worship services, extra rehearsals, and lots more – until finally, the big day arrives! The pews are filled, gallons and gallons of coffee are made and drunk, there’s the smell of Easter lilies, tons of great music, (hopefully) a good sermon message … and then? Whew! It can be like the air being let out of a balloon – not in a disappointing way, but in a relieving way. And then, it is back to ‘business as usual’ as we try to remember what our day-to-day or week-to-week schedule is like.
As we studied the Gospel of John during Lent, I realized that, while celebrating is important for committed believers, it probably seems a little shallow for those who either participate as an extension of “family day” or who are just beginning to check out Jesus and what He meant. Don’t believe me? Think about the FIRST Easter. There weren’t any believers in a divine Jesus or the possibility of resurrection leading to life after death. What was their reaction to the resurrection? Fear, anxiety, doubt, worry and I would guess that a huge dose of “How could I have been so stupid to follow that guy, anyway?” (It’s there in the text of John’s Gospel … disciples huddled in fear … doubt openly displayed …) Resurrection, for those who are on the periphery of Christian faith – just beginning to consider Christ’s claims or examining a congregation to see if they live their faith rather than just talking about it – can be a time of questioning and pondering, with a good dose of doubt and skepticism thrown in.
Resurrection means that there is never a situation where hope for a new beginning isn’t possible. Consider: an adult couple whose life-commitment to each other seems irreparably damaged or even dead, will not walk out of church on Easter holding hands while unicorns cavort around them and angelic choirs sing! It’s far more probable that they might walk out, look at each other with a questioning glance and say, “What do you think? Is there anything to it?” In my imagination, a conversation slowly begins and maybe a decision to examine life and directions and priorities emerges … and resurrection begins to occur … slowly, haltingly, maybe even painfully, but new life eventually takes shape. That is closer to the resurrection as the disciples first experienced it than what contemporary churches present. Celebration is important! It is appropriate! But, let’s not lose sight of the fact that resurrection results show up slowly … gradually … because that’s the way that human beings change.
I pray that your Easter Sunday experience was one that left you with a sense of peace. If you’re a committed follower of Christ, I hope you celebrated and rejoiced! If parts of your life seem so broken that there is no hope in sight, if life seems so empty and discouraging that you’ve given up hope, I urge you to consider the power of resurrection that can come through a new way of living – one built around the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. It’s not easy. It’s not particularly fast. But it can happen. If the worst ending possible (crucifixion) can become the greatest beginning in the history of the world (resurrection) then anything is possible through faith in Christ.
And that’s something that deserves a “Hallelujah!” not just on Easter, but every day.