A farewell dinner.
What kind of man betrays a friend?!
Prayers. Desperate prayers. Earth-shaking prayers. Blood dripping prayers.
An trial rigged by the father of all lies.
A ruler in confusion. He should have listened to his wife.
What kind of friend denies a friend?!
Beating. Scourging. Bleeding. Whipping.
Did He scream?
A painful crown meant to ridicule not define.
A cruel walk up a triumphant hill. One. Agonizing. Step. At. A. Time.
The jeering crowd.
What kind of friends run and hide? Were they only in it for the miracles?
Inhumane soldiers gambling for a piece of His clothing while He hung nearly naked.
Course jesting. Raucous laughter.
A mother’s broken heart. Heaving. Remembering His little boy ways.
A desperate thief who believed at last. He breathed out earth and breathed in heaven.
A Centurion understands and believes. Truly.
Darkness at noon. The roar of the earth. The ripping of history.
It is finished! Complete!
A borrowed tomb. After all, He wouldn’t need it for long.
Nothing … nothing … absolutely nothing … would ever be the same again.
An angel’s announcement, “He is not here … but HE IS RISEN!”
Women who were told, “Go Tell!”
Some call it “Easter”. That works, I suppose. Easter, for me, conjures up a black and white picture of a blonde little girl sandwiched between 2 siblings. This little girl, now her in her late-50’s, was decked out in white, ruffled socks, a pink polyester coat with a matching pink straw hat and lacy gloves. Everyone in the days of black and white wore gloves on Easter Sunday morning. It was requisite!
That particular little, blonde girl remembers those black and white Easter Sunday mornings as if they were yesterday.
We were always up long before dawn for the Easter Morning Sunrise Service. It was the only day of the year I was out of bed before daylight began to slither its jeweled fingers across the inky sky.
The church smelled like pancakes, maple syrup and sausage when our sleepy family of 5 walked into the front doors. My mom scurried to the organ and my dad got us settled somewhere near the front, left hand side.
Our Methodist congregation burst forth the news as the sun broke through, “Up from the grave He arose! With a mighty triumph o’er His foes.” I can still hear it. I can still hear the voices of Duane Grehlinger and Shirley Green. Bob Dix and Reverend Tauscher. Although their voices broke on the high notes and struggled for pitch on the low notes, they believed what they sang. That’s what counts about Easter…that you believe.
After breakfast in the cold church basement, warmed by the steaming pots of coffee and laughter of friends who had truly become family, we traipsed home across the yards of our neighbors for an hour or so before Sunday School and the 10:00 service. During that sweet hour, we would find our Easter baskets, have our hair re-fixed and listen to the Easter story read by my general of a father.
Dad loved the Bible, he loved my mom, he loved the garden and he loved us. He was quite a man. Dad believed in Easter. He taught me to believe as well. Did I mention that he was quite a man?
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; and He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.” – I Corinthians 15:3-8
Paul, the one who was untimely born, calls Easter the event “of first importance” in anything that he has ever known or written about. These are some pretty impressive words coming from one of the most learned men of the day.
Paul’s words echo through the ages, Nothing compares to the message of the Risen Savior.
When it comes down to it, there is nothing more important in your life than Easter.
When you get to the end of your life all that will matter is Easter.
There is nothing that deserves your earthly attention so much as Easter.
Oh … I remember the days of white ruffly socks, little pink purses and lacy gloves. I remember the thrill of finding the Easter basket and looking forward to the sumptuous dinner that was to follow. I remember singing, “We serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today! I know that He is living whatever men may say!”
What I didn’t know in those innocent days of celebrating a spring holiday was that someday … I would believe, too. And at the very moment that I believed, Easter changed from being a mere 24 hours in the early spring to a lifestyle of hope and joy. I no longer refer to it, either mentally or verbally as “Easter Sunday”. For me, it is “Resurrection Day!” And, trust me, it is incomplete without that exclamation mark!
Jesus really was born in a manger … He really did live among us … He was put to death on the old rugged cross … and He was buried.
But what happened next was the true miracle … He rose from the dead! He conquered death triumphantly!
Jesus had the first Word … the middle Word … and the last Word! Because death could not hold Him … it cannot hold you either.
Will you stay in your world of black and white presumptions? Or will you join the chorus of all the ages and sing with gusto, “Because He lives … I can face tomorrow … Because He lives … all fear is gone!”
Because when you get to the end of your life … the resurrection will be all that matters. It was all that mattered to Duane Grehlinger … to Shirley Green … to Bob Dix … and to Reverend Tauscher. It was all that mattered to Paul and it was all that mattered to my dad. He was quite a man.
And … it’s all that matters to me. It is my message of first importance. Resurrection Day!
Please make sure that you don’t forget the exclamation mark … while you’re at it …let’s make it two! It is, after all, the message of first importance.