How many of you have heard it said, “Easter is them most important date on the Church calendar”? I know I have. But it bothers me. How can we make a value judgment?
You can’t have Easter without Christmas. And Christmas would be meaningless without Easter. Oh, we could argue that Jesus was a good man who died a martyr’s death to show us an example of servanthood. An unselfish example – nah, doesn’t work for me. To die as He did has to mean more than that.
On Christmas we celebrate God stepping into human history as a human, just like you and me, to carry our sins to death on a cross. We were condemned in our sin. We could not redeem ourselves – Jesus did it for us. Satan threw all he had at Jesus. He came to take on all the forces of evil. He did and won – for all time.
What looked hopeless became our only Hope. That which looked like defeat actually was a powerful victory. That which looked so hideous and gruesome turned into a thing of beauty. Only God could do all that.
Easter is glorious! Christmas is wonder-filled. We don’t have to choose…but I sort of lean towards Christmas!
What do you think?
We had 5″ of snow last Sunday and this Sunday it was 60+ degrees. It’s like having whiplash! Last year we had a very early Spring…this year it is very late. Soon it will be 85 degrees – it seems we go from winter to summer, skipping Spring.
And it amazes me that while there is thick snow covering the ground the next day the trees are turning green and flower buds open. How do they know when to show up and open? Is it related to the amount daylight hours? Does it have to do with temperatures? I am sure there is a scientific reason. I love to take my walk and observe the progress of the tiny buds…the weeping willow is usually the first to show signs of green. (Can we observe that “weeping” can bring new growth?) Crocuses come up in the ice and snow…so it must not be temperature related.
This year the winter was particularly harsh – brutal cold and feet of snow – loss of power. Very unusual for us here in the South – it made the news on a national level! (I’d just as soon not make the national news, thank you!) It was easy to get discouraged and wonder if God had decided to skip spring this year. However, in February when the snow was deep and the temperatures dropping I began to notice the days were perceptively getting longer – just by minutes – but still longer. In late February I heard a mockingbird sing – a sure sign that Spring is somewhere in the neighborhood. Others may not notice but I do because I am looking for it. Hope! We all need hope to survive.
There is a time for Spring to come…nothing can stop it. It comes when winter has done it’s worst. It comes in spite of the circumstances. And isn’t that true in our lives? When we have weathered all we can endure; when we think God has forsaken us; when we are ready to give up, God sends a small encouragement: a timely message from a friend, a smile from a stranger, an unexpected invitation to lunch… You might miss it unless you are looking for it. When it comes, and it will, it gives you the courage and strength to carry on. To keep going. It is a gift from God.
Keeping looking. Keep expecting. “There is surely a hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:18)
Isn’t that what Jesus’ Resurrection tells us?
I woke up early this morning. Too early. Too early to get up but too late to go back to sleep. So I just lay in bed thinking….then I began to fret – worry – about what all I needed to do and the fact I didn’t think I had gotten enough sleep. I am sure you know the feeling! Frustrating. Maddening.
I prayed for those that came to mind. I recited all the Bible verses I could think of – which is sadly, too few.
I began to recite Isaiah 26:3. As I did, I thought I will just stay on this verse a while – use it for meditation. “Thou wilt keep him (me) in perfect peace whose (me) mind is stayed on Thee.” I took it piece by piece, word by word.
Thou: God. The Almighty. The One who loves and knows me best. My redeemer and friend.
Wilt: not “may”, not “hope and wish” – but will.
Keep: He holds it. Things don’t slip through HIs fingers. Secure.
In: Not on the outside looking in – but inside the circle, close.
Perfect: Whole, complete. Not halfway or partial.
Peace: Quiet confidence, calm.
Whose: Me again. But it is my choice.
Mind: That part of me that feels, thinks, wills and reasons.
Is: Present tense. In the now.
Stayed: Focused. Remain.
Thee: God. My redeemer and refuge. My stronghold and defender. My deliverer.
The one who knows and loves me best will hold me securely inside a place of quiet confidence when my emotions, thoughts, choices, reason remains focused and positioned in/on my Redeemer, Refuge, Stronghold, Deliverer, Defender…
Be anxious for nothing. Be still and know that He is God.
I am reading a marvelous book – it is slow going because it is so rich and needs my full attention: The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard (HarperSanFrancisco, 1998).
In it he quotes Adam Clarke’s statement about God: “the eternal, independent, and self-existent Being; the Being whose purposes and actions spring from himself, without foreign motive or influence; he who is absolute in dominion; the most pure, the most simple, the most spiritual of all essences; infinitely perfect; and eternally self-sufficient, needing nothing that he has made; illimitable in his immensity, inconceivable in his mode of existence, and indescribable in his essence; known fully only by himself, because an infinite mind can only be fully comprehended by itself. In a word, a Being, who from his infinite wisdom, cannot err or be deceived, and from his infinite goodness, can do nothing but what is eternally just, and right, and kind.”
And that Being loves you and me; wants a personal, intimate relationship with us so much so that He sent his Son to die for us so that we might enter into such a wonderful, daily relationship with him.
Take a moment today to worship him.