Holy Week: Part 3 (Resurrection)

crossDuring my childhood Easter was about an egg hunt for candy, a traditional family dinner, and a new outfit.  Without Jesus at the center however, there was no meaning, and the holiday always felt empty.

When I started to write about Holy Week this past Monday, I had no idea I’d be writing a mini series of three posts.  Deep in preparations for adding drama to our church’s Good Friday Service, I simply couldn’t shake the feeling I needed to take what we’ve been working on  and put it “out there”.

Out of the cruelty and the suffering that we’re reminded of during Holy Week, out of the recognition of our own destructive ways (and how we all in effect had a part in Jesus’ death), out of our realization that we are lost without a savior, the Resurrection brings Hope in its ultimate form!  God’s promises are true!  When we submit to the Creator of the universe and we accept that Jesus gave His life to bring us back into relationship with our Heavenly Father, we are assured of a new life too!

Understanding Jesus’ Resurrection and all of its implications is that simple, and that difficult.  Understanding the things of God only comes with submission and a heart that genuinely wants to know Him.  But IF we ask, He delights to shower us with all the wisdom that we need; we are His dearly loved children, and He rejoices each time one of us makes the choice to trust Him.

The Resurrection of Jesus gives us a taste of a heavenly reality; we too will have resurrected bodies some day.  Bodies that have form and substance– Jesus was touched, He could eat, He was recognizable and still bore scars.  But our new bodies will also be immortal, and somehow be able to appear, disappear, and enter through walls at will :-).  We won’t ever again experience illness or pain. Being one who struggles some days with aches and stiffness, I look forward to the freedom of such an existence!

In the meantime, eternity starts from the moment we say “Yes”, to Jesus and admit we need a Rescuer.  This is what His Resurrection is all about– New Life.  Our transformation as Christ followers is a process, but true progress can be seen and experienced all along the way!!  The more we dedicate ourselves to knowing the Lord, the more our lives will demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit within us– qualities such as love, joy and peace,  also patience and kindness, greater faith, and even an increased measure of self-control.

On this side of heaven we can expect challenges, but we have authentic HOPE– promises that we can count on for the future.  Whether you’ve been a Christian for many years, you’re just starting your journey, or you suspect the Easter Bunny isn’t what the holiday celebrates, and you want to check it out for yourself, I would encourage you to find and attend a Good Friday Service this year!  Free from the crowds of Easter services, it might give you what you need to really reflect on what the Holy Day is all about.

While a new outfit and a family dinner can be wonderful, don’t let another year go by accepting an egg hunt as a substitution for the real celebration.

Advertisements

Holy Week: part 1 (Sin)

crossWhile our culture (and many self-identified Christians, for that matter) are far more comfortable looking at Easter as a HOLIDAY with egg hunts and baskets of candy, we do ourselves a disservice when we don’t take the time to reflect on the HOLY- DAY.  Easter is, at its core, the powerful culmination of a great Love Story.  From a human perspective, the plot twists of this story are often totally bizarre, but God’s ways are not man’s ways, and God’s wisdom seems foolish to those who rely on worldly wisdom.

For my first 32 years of life I operated out of the wisdom of man. I was “self-sufficient”, reasonably “intelligent”, “well-educated”, and “successful”.  And so when I first started hearing that little 3-letter word Christians throw around so glibly, my hackles would raise up in defiance.  Sinner–who me? When I compared myself to others, I was a good citizen, a loyal wife, a loving mom, a solid friend, a dutiful daughter. I’d get on my soapbox against injustice, and give money to charities, believing in the hype of our culture about what it means to be a “good person”.

The thing is, without Jesus, none of us is truly good.  (Rom 3:10)  Time for a little heart check:  Can you honestly look at your thoughts, behaviors, and motives and then say that you don’t strive, bend the truth a little, gossip, or argue?  Have you never been bossy, arrogant, anxious, or selfish?  God is all about giving us free will and the choice to love and follow Him.  How often do we choose our own agenda instead? 

Eugene Petersen paraphrases Romans 1:28-30 this way in “The Message”–Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose.  And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing.  They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating.  Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, God-bashers, bullies, insufferable windbags!  They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives.

wow…right?  And just in case you think being a Christ follower automatically gets you off the hook- there’s this reminder from Romans 2:1 (The Message)– Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again.  Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself.  It takes one to know one.  Or as we say in my family, you smelt it, you dealt it. 🙂

The reality is, we ARE sinners, and it’s that very earthly, fleshly, fallen nature of ours that separates us from God.  But God, who created the universe, also planned for the moment you would be born, and lovingly placed you on this planet for such a time as this.  Existing outside of time, He knows the choices we’ll make, the sins we’ll commit, and STILL– not wanting any of us to remain separated from Him in eternal darkness, pain, and fear– our Heavenly Father has crafted a rescue plan!  (John 3:16) This is the Love Story that should far outshine some colored eggs and jelly beans!