By Pastor Shane
When I was a young child, Easter was my least favorite holiday. Sure I enjoyed the candy and all of the sweet treats but mom insisted on us boys wearing a suit and tie and to be clad in our Sunday best. We were boys for crying out loud; what was she thinking? We wanted to wear jeans and t-shirts, get muddy and catch snakes but on this day mama would have none of it. We wore the itchy suits and were greeted at the door by sister Betty who pinched our cheeks and told us how cute we were. The only problem was, we didn’t want to be cute; we wanted to be rough, tough and to sling pistols against bad guys. At the core of our feelings about Easter there was a fundamental misunderstanding of what this day meant and the hope it has to offer for our lives.
The older I’ve gotten, I have come to realize that this misunderstanding is not exclusive to children but rather finds its way into much of the thinking of our world. We happen upon the annual reminder of Easter and are bewildered with the first visitors to Christ’s empty tomb, and ask ourselves the question: what does it mean? Christ has been raised, which sounds like great news for him, but what about us? Our lives are tattered with the splotches of the blood-sport of our human experiences and bear the wounds of disappointment, heartache, broken dreams and failure and as such the grip of death seems to be pulling us further into an abyss of hopelessness. We know Christ has risen, but for most of us, we live our lives often stuck somewhere between Good Friday and Easter.
What I mean is that we live with an understanding of Christ’s sacrificial death for our sins, but have little understanding of what resurrection does for us. The reports have come back that Christ has risen but often it seems that we live as if he is still dead and that we are still bound over to a life of death. Our world is ravaged in materialism, hate, bitterness, depression, sickness and death, but Jesus is the Resurrection that calls us from this dead life into something different where we are given the ability to recreate our world of sin and death into a new existence of life and power. Romans 6:4 is helpful here: “ We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” What Paul is saying to the Church is that resurrection imparts a new muscle to those that are in Christ to live a new life. Thus, each of us has received in our baptism a measure of Jesus resurrection power. The empty tomb doesn’t just say that he is risen it also SHOUTS that we have risen and all of the great that God intends for us is now available to us in the Finished work of Christ. All of the dressing up on Easter and frilly clothes that we wear then are simply a testimony to this truth: God can take a mud ridden, gun slinging, dirt smelling, sin toting boy (and girl) and make them new.