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Easter - A Time of Renewal


1 Corinthians 15:55

O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Happy Easter! Easter is a time that brings up many memories. What are the images that come to your mind? Are they a mixture of sacred and secular? Eggs, children, family, laughing, chocolate bunnies, chicks, blossoms, Lilies, Jesus, resurrection, overcoming, salvation, rebirth, renewal. Isn’t it great that this sacred holiday celebrating renewal and new beginnings just happens to fall in a season that reflects the same qualities…at least in the Northern Hemisphere? In Australia, of course, their celebration of Easter comes at a time when nature is closing, falling off, and beginning its state of dormancy.

Yet, regardless of where we live, Easter is symbolic of restoration, arising, and overcoming. Easter is a time of renewal. The earth seems to be coming alive with bugs and buds and birds.  Spiritually, that is exactly what Easter is for us: it is the celebration of overcoming death.  The Biblical depiction of Jesus dramatically shows us that death is no stopping point – indeed what we think of death doesn’t exist at all.

Easter is the defining characteristic of Christianity; it is the culmination of why Jesus came to earth: to show us that we are more than mere physical bodies; we are eternal spiritual beings and death cannot separate us from God or each other.

We have finished Holy Week, which began with Palm Sunday, and it was a full week. On Holy Monday, Jesus and his disciples were returning to Jerusalem after spending the night in nearby Bethany. On the way, he spotted a fig tree full of leaves but bore no fruit. It was a metaphor for the religion of the time that practiced rites and rituals but gave no spiritual value to its people. Jesus cursed the tree, and it withered the next day.

That same day, when they reached the courtyards surrounding the temple, Jesus was appalled by the irreverence for God as money changers took advantage of the pilgrims coming to worship there. He overturned their tables, drove them out of the temple, and accused them of being a ‘den of thieves.’  

The high priests began plotting against Jesus, and on Holy Tuesday the Pharisees collaborated with Herod the Great, the Roman-appointed king of Judea, to condemn Jesus. On Holy Wednesday, or Spy Wednesday, one of Jesus' disciples, Judas Iscariot, consented to betray Jesus in exchange for thirty pieces of money.

This is followed by Maundy Thursday, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, teaching us that we can serve each other. He also served the Last Supper, which was the last meal He would share with His disciples before his crucifixion. The word ‘Maundy’ comes from the Latin word ‘mandatum’, which means mandate. We are provided this mandate by Jesus in John 13:34: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”    

After Maundy Thursday, the Holy Week concludes with Good Friday, the trial and ultimate crucifixion of Christ. We call it Good Friday in the Unites States, because in medieval times when the holiday began, the word ‘good’ meant ‘holy’ or ‘related to God.’ Western European Christians refer to the day as “Holy Friday’, in their languages. Regardless, it was the beginning of the good that God would give to us through the crucifixion of Jesus. It was the greatest physical challenge Jesus would face, and his greatest overcoming as he fulfilled his mission on earth.  

Without Good Friday, Easter is just another celebration. Without Easter, there is no triumph of light over darkness; without the triumph of light over darkness, there is no victory of truth over ignorance, of love over hate, of life over death.

Then there is Great and Holy Saturday. Of course, Jesus was not idle after being placed in the tomb. In Christian theology, Jesus descended into hades and brought salvation to the souls held captive there since the beginning of the world.

Easter is the overcoming, the resurrection of the body of Christ. There is much contention from the scientific community as to whether this happened or not. I am not a gullible person, yet I totally believe that this resurrection occurred. It has happened since. As are all spiritual events, science cannot explain these occurrences. I accept that; it doesn’t make them less true.

Easter is a celebration of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Churches have created creeds claiming he was crucified, died, buried, and rose again from the dead. These creeds speak to the delight and awe, the miracle, and the importance of Easter.

But there is more. Christian theology tells us that Jesus died for our sins and overcame death. What does that mean? According to tradition, all our sins, past, present, and future, have been forgiven through the death and resurrection of Christ. So, can we just lead a life of doing whatever we want, sinning daily, and then on our deathbed pray to Christ and have all those sins be forgiven?

Well, God loves us no matter what, and our sins are forgiven, but we are still responsible for our actions and the consequences of our actions, thoughts, attitudes, and words. Therefore, we would be absurdly ignorant to go through life injuring and disrespecting others. We cannot avoid the consequences of our worldly choices.

Galatians 6:5-10 says: For we are each responsible for our own conduct. Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them. Don’t be misled — you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

This is also the importance of Easter. Yes, our sins are forgiven, but we are still responsible for our own conduct. We are responsible for following the teachings of Christ, to love God, to love and forgive each other and ourselves, and to respect each other. This is part of the Easter message.

And there is more to Easter. Why would Jesus agree to all of this – to be tried, tortured, and crucified? The only answer is love. Christ loved us and wanted to follow his Father’s instruction despite the personal pain. God raised Jesus to wholeness. Left behind was the battered physical form and what came out of that tomb was a complete and victorious being. Not only was Jesus raised from the dead, but he was given life beyond what he was before. Jesus endured all the horrific trials because he loves us and wants us to know that if God would raise him, God will raise us.

Death is not the end; it is just the final worldly event we endure. Our faith tells us that since there is a God, just as Christ was resurrected, we will be resurrected. Since God is real, heaven is real, and we will join our loved ones again.  And why would God create such a system? The only answer is love. God is love, and that love was displayed on earth through the countenance of Jesus Christ. That same love now endures within us, around us, and reaches out through us to connect with others.  

It is my prayer that the power of the risen Christ makes its presence known within our mind, heart, body, and soul and we are renewed. I pray that we awaken to the love, joy, and peace of Jesus, hold it in our hearts and minds, and find the deepest meaning and the true power of Easter, which is to love one another.


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