Living Easter

Easter is just on the horizon as I sit down to write this article. No matter when this holiday falls in the calendar, it seems like it sneaks up on me. In these final days before Easter morning there is a lot to be accomplished. Several services to organize, sermons to write, phone calls to make, etc. In some ways this is one of the busiest weeks of the year for me at church. Yet, in other ways, this week is not all that much different than any other week of the year. Sure, there are a few more activities, but really that is it.

Through the years I’ve come to appreciate the many ways Easter is like every other Sunday, just as much as it is unlike any other Sunday. Yes, this is the one week every year where we purposefully celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. But, isn’t that our focus throughout the year? Without the events of this week, the church might look remarkably different. If it even existed at all. Therefore, all 52 Sundays a year are a celebration of the resurrection. Or, they should be.
I recently saw a comic depicting a couple talking to the pastor outside of church after Easter worship. One of them says to the pastor, “I think you’re falling into a rut. Every time I come to church you’re talking about the resurrection.” Of course, the “humor” is that this person only comes to church on Easter. What I understood was a little different, however. I thought about how transformative a focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection can be in our lives.

It is important to notice that I mention BOTH Jesus’ death and resurrection. I’ve recently been reading a book that encourages us to reclaim the importance of the crucifixion of Jesus. That Jesus was executed is pivotal to the story, and central to who we are as his followers. We follow a crucified and risen Lord. As Jesus says to his disciples in John 15:12-13; “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus blatantly asks us to be willing to lay aside everything, including our lives, for our friends.

The story of Easter is that such faith, such love, has a power beyond explanation. Jesus was crucified because of his radical love for others. And the grave could not contain him. That is the powerful message of Easter.

What would it be like to experience that power every week, not just on Easter? If the message is that powerful, and I think it is, why only give it our focus on one Sunday? Truth be told, we don’t. In big and small ways, we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus each and every week. I know that I have the message of Easter in my mind as I prepare each of my sermons. I admit that I’m not always successful at communicating that message, but it is my intention as I write my sermons.

But this year, I want to encourage you to join me in trying to do even more. Instead of focusing on the message of Easter one week, I’m going to intentionally focus on it all 52 weeks this year. What’s more, instead of focusing on Easter one DAY this year, I’m going to intentionally think about how my day is transformed by the cross and the empty tomb for the next 390 days, until Easter on April 21, 2019. I am excited to see how my life is changed, and to hear how your lives change as well.

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