When I was a kid, Easter was about a new dress, shoes, and maybe even a hat with a long ribbon. We’d lay our clothes out before we went to bed on Saturday night, and the Easter bunny would put eggs, Peeps, jelly beans and a chocolate bunny in our shoes and other semi-hidden spots on the apparel display.
The morning started way too early, if I remember correctly, and after exploring our goodies and an Easter egg hunt, we’d get ready to go to church, all sugared up. The church service was a happy celebration followed by an Easter breakfast. More sugar. At home, there was always a dinner and laughter with extended family. We’d go to bed well satisfied with fun, family and sugar.
Of course, I knew what we were celebrating, the resurrection of Jesus, but that fact may have been lost in all the traditions surrounding the day.
I’m sure families will do similar things on Sunday, and many will come up with creative ways to celebrate, but I hope they will also remember with a little bit more focus what Jesus’s resurrection means.
As the impact of covid-19 becomes more pronounced, I feel it emotionally. It feels heavy, hard to carry. I have to remind myself that he is my Father, that I am his child, that he loves me and all those whom I love, and that he has filled me with his Spirit. Therefore, I have access to his power to live in confident faith, hope and love rather than anxiety, worry and fear.
Jesus’s resurrection makes that possible.
In Sunday school, back in my Easter egg and Peep days, the default answer to any question was: Jesus died for my sins. That is absolutely true, but it’s not complete. Yes, Jesus died for our sins, but if he had not been raised from the dead, no matter how wonderful a life he had led, it would have been no different from anyone else who had died. He would have been forgotten long ago.
Jesus was raised to life because death couldn’t keep him.
But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Acts 2:24
The fact that Jesus lived a sinless life, willingly gave up his perfect life for our sinful lives, and proved by his resurrection that death had no power over him is the glorious truth that we celebrate on Easter Sunday.
This weekend we will celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday with gratitude and joy, for our lives were quite literally saved. We have the power to live fruitful, faithful – not fearful – lives because Jesus rose from the grave on that day 2000 years ago.
Because I live, you also will live. John 14:19
We live a new life because Jesus is alive.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:4
We are fearless children of God because Jesus is alive.
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received a Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba Father.” The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:15-16
We look forward to a glorious future because Jesus is alive!
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body…”Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 54
Jesus conquered death, and that is worth celebrating every day. In these shelter-in-place, mask wearing, hand washing days, remember that Jesus’s resurrection means victorious life today and forever.
How will your Easter celebration be different this year?