I often don’t like Easter services.
I don’t. I like parts of the service—usually. But I often come away less than satisfied.
The Easter story is packed with lessons:
The prophecies of Passover fulfilled
“Not my will but Yours”
Peter denying Christ
Christ bearing the punishment for our sins
By Christ’s stripes we are healed
The crushing of Satan’s head
Light in our deepest darkness
The defeat of death and the grave
And so on, and so on, and …
It must be rather difficult for preachers to decide what to focus on. Most usually choose a topic that will speak to those who rarely attend church. (I think that’s a great idea.) And for those who want to break the story into meditation-size pieces, many churches offer several services the week preceding Easter Sunday. (Another great idea.)
But if I was the one planning the Resurrection Sunday service …
I’d be sure to include a sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs, hallelujah-shouting, hand-raising, triumphant celebration. The good old-fashioned “Up from the grave He arose” sort of thing.
Why? Because I love celebrating resurrection life—resurrection hope.
Hope based on an incomprehensible victory already accomplished.
Hope not just that things will turn out okay in my world today, but hope that all darkness, all evil, all sickness, all failures, all pain will one day be wiped away forever. Hope because they already have been.
This hope thing.
It’s what I want to convey each time I write. Not shallow or plastic; but deep and life-giving. To do so, I share as honestly as I can. I paint the picture as dark as I remember it being while raising nonbiological, attachment-disorder-laden, fetal-alcohol-exposed children. And then, I turn on the light—truths that illumined the path I walked.
So today I pray I don’t discourage you too much when I tell you that even after my kids are all well into adulthood and parents themselves, even though they’ve beautifully attached to their dad and me, and even though their drama no longer presents itself in my home, it often does in someone else’s. And every now and then, I receive discouraging reports from those who are with them in the midst of it all. And once again my world turns a little dark—like a cloud that blocks the sun.
And so I went to church yesterday, Easter Sunday, with a twinge of angst tightening my chest. I needed a good dose of hope. It may not have been the fist-pumping, happy-dancing, tears-streaming kind of service (for me) but it was enough. Enough to lift the grey and allow the Son to shine fresh.
None of us moms have guarantees …
that what we’re planting will produce beautiful gardens. We’ve no promises that all we’re investing will yield astounding returns. We’ve no reason to expect that all we’ve poured out of ourselves will ever be recognized (much less cherished).
We can grab hold and cling tightly to the promises of Easter.
My sins are forgiven.
I am God’s child forever.
Jesus is alive and in the world today.
He will always rise victorious.
His purposes will be accomplished.
His light will dispel all darkness.
My children can never offer me this kind of hope. I can never produce this kind of light.
But Jesus can. Jesus does. Jesus has.
If you’re like me, you might just need to do a little Easter celebrating even today. Shout-shatter that cloud hanging over you. Thank Jesus for the immensity of what He’s done for you. Bow before His gloriousness. Run into His embrace.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:5-6 (NKJV)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”
John 11:25 (NKJV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3 (NKJV)
The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!
Revelation 11:15 (NKJV)