He is risen. However you choose to celebrate this day, I hope it’s a great one for you.
If I can be completely honest, for the past few years, I’ve literally had to remind myself when Easter comes around. Everyone in my household is too big for the Easter Bunny (not to mention we really don’t need the candy around), and not being actively involved in a congregation at this time, there’s not much else in my life to remind me of it. It wasn’t always that way. For the better part of my life working in the church, “Easter” equaled “work” for me, as each time it came around, we geared up for what was supposed to be the biggest Sunday of the year. Even before I was officially “in the ministry,” I was always deeply involved in the services, pageants, plays, etc., from my early teens on. So for the past couple of years, it’s actually come as a welcome rest for me not to have to do anything on Easter Sunday.
But that doesn’t downplay the actual significance of what this day represents for us: resurrection. “He is risen.” The fact that Christ was raised from the dead has so many ramifications for us that it’s hard to keep track of them all. And so it seems fitting to meditate a little bit on this idea of resurrection, and what it means to us.
As a bit of history…while we modern-day Christians accept Christ’s resurrection without question–and even non-believers seem to be okay with it, at least as far as the story goes–in the culture in which the church was born, the idea of resurrection was actually very controversial, often considered silly, or even offensive. The prevailing mindset of the Greco-Roman culture of the day had no problem with the idea of multiple deities, but the idea that someone could come back to life after crossing the River Styx (their mythology of crossing into the afterlife) was laughable to them. Many of them just couldn’t get their mind around that one, and many declined to embrace the Christian faith because of that one sticking point. Even among the Jews themselves, the idea of resurrection was a point of dispute, even before Christ came on the scene. (Remember the Pharisees and the Saducees? The Pharisees believed in resurrection; the Saducees did not. Which was why they were so sad, you see.)
Sorry. Old joke. Couldn’t help myself.
But as we know, our trust in Christ is simply not complete without resurrection. His sacrificial death was one thing, but rising from the dead proved that he had conquered death once and for all. His resurrection demonstrated that His death had accomplished what it was intended to do. Without the resurrection, the death would have no meaning.
And today, resurrection remains for us a symbol of hope. Hope, because we know now that death is not necessarily the end of the story. When everything looks hopeless, there is still hope.
I’ve lived through times when it seemed there was no way out, that the worst case scenario was about to happen. And sometimes it actually did happen. But even in those moments, somehow, there was life on the other side. I’ve had the experience of watching dreams die. Sometimes, the dreams themselves have been brought back to life; other times, they were replaced with newer, better dreams. Either way, it’s a picture of resurrection. I’ve also experienced seasons where the circumstances appeared hopeless, but somehow at the last minute, something happened to turn things around. That, too, is a picture of resurrection. Even when things do not turn out the way we had hoped–hope prevails. Because the end is not really the end. There is always more to the story.
Even after death itself–there is life. Because He is risen.
So that’s what this day represents for me. Hope. Hope for the bleakest of times, and the celebration of life on the other side.
Happy Resurrection Day, everyone.