Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Celebrate the Resurrection!

Easter is almost here! I love Easter! It used to be my favorite holiday -- we celebrate that our Savior has risen from the dead, everything is in bloom, and we start to forget about the dreary winter months. But then, I realized that Easter is also a celebration of Jesus' death...because He had to die before He could rise from the I started to claim Christmas as my favorite holiday -- since that is when we celebrate our Savior's birth.

But the more I think about it, and the more I read about the death and resurrection of Jesus, the more I realize that both holidays are important...God's plan is not complete without the events of Christmas AND Easter. I look forward to the Lenten season every year. I don't give something up for Lent as a lot of other people do, but I do try to stop and think about what Lent and Easter is all about. I found a website this year with devotions for the Lenten season, and the introduction explains it perfectly:

While Easter is a popular holiday and may be the most important Christian holiday (next to Christmas), many of us have a pretty weak understanding of what it is all about. For example, Easter often sneaks up on us: we may not even think of it until the annual church brunch is announced. ...

Lent is the antidote to this oversight. In the Western churches (of the Protestant variety) we don't participate in Lent, historically speaking. We are more comfortable with the joy and celebration of Easter than with the darkness that preceded it. But Lent is a chance to remember the dark before the dawn, the sin that sent Jesus to the cross. In the Orthodox Church, Lent is called the season of Bright Sadness, because it is a time of both celebration and mourning.

But, the inevitable question is: why dwell on the darkness at all? After all, Jesus' work is done. Death has been conquered, Christ is victorious! Why should we be sad?

If Easter is the Answer, What is the Question?
Before Christ, the world called out to God (in the words of David, King of Israel),

"How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealous wrath burn like fire? " (Psalm 79.5)

Easter is the once-for-all-time answer to this question. Jesus took our place on the cross to appease God's righteous anger. He went alone to be punished: separated from God and deserted by his friends. The drama of how this happened is the story of Lent. ... Before the Resurrection comes crucifixion; before crucifixion comes prosecution; before prosecution comes betrayal, doubt, fear, rebellion, and sin.

Lent helps us experience our part in the Passion (suffering) of Jesus. We face our humanity during Lent: we learn that sin still dwells in us, that we still carry darkness. We learn that we would likely have fallen asleep as Jesus prayed for deliverance in the garden, and we would likely have denied knowing him as he silently accepted his death sentence.

I'm a little slow in my Easter study this year...I've let other priorities get in the way. We've even been lax in attending church this season, and that bothers me. It's not that I've forgotten the story of Jesus dying on the cross, or that I think I have to be in church to be a Christian, but the worship and sermons and fellowship are unavoidable reminders of the awesome sacrifice that Jesus made for us.

I don't write about spiritual subjects like this very much, but I think that Jesus' death and resurrection deserves my attention right now. I'm grateful for my life, and I'm grateful that Jesus was willing to die for my sins so that I don't have to, and I'm grateful that even though I still sin, He is willing to forgive me again and again and again...and I'm grateul that I'm guaranteed eternal life in a place more beautiful than words can describe...just for trusting and believing in Him!

Take a minute to be grateful for everything you have in your life, and think about the sacrifice that God made in sending His Son to die for YOU, and the unbelievable gift that Jesus gave to YOU when He hung on the cross.

I'll end this post with lyrics from a favorite song of mine by Phillips, Craig and Dean called "In Christ Alone":

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest
drought and storm

What heights of love,
what depths of peace
When fears are stilled,
when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ Alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save

'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave he rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

In Christ alone I place my trust
And find my glory in the power
of the cross
In every victory let it be said of me
My source of strength
My source of hope
In Christ alone I place my trust
And find my glory in the power
of the cross
In every victory let it be said of me
My source of strength
My source of hope
In Christ alone

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His Hand
'til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.


Chelf said...

I have heard the song done by several artists. I love the lyrics. More of us should live by those words.

I have never understood the Lenten season thing, not being Catholic. I have asked for explanations, and none have come close to what you just spoke about.

My dad has issues with Easter, not because of celebrating Jesus and the Resurrection, but because of the bunny and the eggs that have invaded the customs.

We celebrate Jesus' life, teachings, death, burial, resurrection and our hope in Him every week with the Communion, so we don't make a big deal out of any one of those on any single day. Sometimes, I think this is a good thing, and sometimes... I just want to have a day of reflection set aside from the regular Sunday pattern.

Don't just go to church on Christmas and Easter (my friend calls this the "Holly and Lilly crowd"). The weekly, even daily, fellowship is necessary to a strong "family" in Christ.

Sally said...

Thanks for the comment, Chelf.

I also have a problem with the eggs and bunny at Easter, as well as Santa at Christmas. I never believed in either one as a child, and although we did do Easter Egg hunts AFTER our Christian celebration of Easter, it was more of a family time than believing the Easter bunny was what Easter was all about.

I still have a hard time with the fact that CofC's don't celebrate Easter or Christmas...I do agree with you that we should remind ourselves every week that Jesus is our Savior and that He died and rose for us, but when you do something EVERY single week, its meaning and importance starts to decrease...whether intentional or not. I really appreciate the dedicated focus that is given around Easter and Christmas, to help me remember and remind me of the sacrifice that was made to save my soul.

My MIL has invited us to churc on Sunday (we politely declined as usual), and to lunch after...and I'm not sure if we'll go to that or not. I'm afraid it will turn into a guilt trip for us to go to church with them Sunday evening...and I don't think that's how I want to celebrate Easter.

He is Risen!

Love Bears All Things said...

Thank you for this post. I'm sort of catching up on my reading. I think we should feel the shadow of the cross as we live our daily lives. Not just at Easter. I believe Spring reminds us to stop a minute and remember.