Living Into Easter

Posted: March 26, 2018 in Christian Life
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imagesEaster is coming. As I sit here looking out onto a rain-slicked Tucker Avenue and parks, which are trying to become spring-green, under a thin, grey, leaky sky, I do not feel energy for tackling the tasks of the day. The freshness spring—officially five days old—should usher in is absent from the scene. How inappropriate, incongruent with the season today seems—temperature in the forties, drizzly rain, and grey skies does not paint an image of joyful spring with kids (goats or children) frolicking in green meadows. But it’s going to get worse.

I checked my phone. Rain is forecast for the rest of the week. Every day. No relief in sight. Even on Easter Sunday! What gives? Can’t Easter, the day of hope for Christians everywhere, a day of all days, usher in mood-lifting sunshine?

After all, we Christians believe that Easter memorializes the day when God broke the chains of despair that death always brings. Easter brings hope that we too will be free from the shackles that bind us to this time and space. But I am bound by the calendar of time and the vagaries of the climate in this space I occupy. So, what am I to do? Live through it? Surely the sun will shine one day. But before it does, it’s going to get worse.

This dreadful week comes once a year. It’s filled with intrigue and fear and loneliness and a grasping for hope. It is a dark and foreboding time each year, like a dragnet has pulled all that makes life difficult into this week. This year’s weather sets a backdrop to the anguished emotions such detritus of living that fill this week. I don’t look forward to Thursday heaviness hangs over supper Thursday evening.

I know it will; it happens every year. Something awful is going to happen; but I don’t want to accept it. In fact, with uplifted fist and righteous voice, I want to strike out at those who seek to deny the veracity of my friend. I want life to return to normal, for everything to be like it was with everyone rocking along easy. I want to sit under wise teaching; bask in the joy of learning about life and my place in it with no one questioning the teacher or his teaching. But no, Thursday will come, it will still be raining, and I’ll hear words promising that life as usual will not be the same. But, before it gets better it’s going to get worse.

I know it will get worse, but, no matter how much I prepare for it, or remembering past years’ expeiences, I always find myself distraught and mournful. Friday follows Thursday. I’m a Christian. Each year I face this difficult day.

I hear you thinking: “But, if you’re a Christian, you know Easter follows the dreadful Friday. So, why are you so distraught?”

“I have to go through Friday before I get to Easter,” I respond.

You see, I have to bring the agonizing hopelessness, the awfulness of my life today into Good Friday before I can fully embrace the overwhelming hopefulness of Easter. The pronouncement of Thursday evening that I refuse to embrace—in spite of my need for it—comes clear on Friday and I have to ask myself if I have the spiritual courage to engage, to announce myself as one who is a friend of the condemned. You see, I too am culpable in his death. So, with slow steps, I will drag myself into Friday this week as I do every year, reluctant admit my part in the awful scene. Or, to say, “Yes, count me in; I’m with him.”

There’s nothing “good” about this coming Friday even though “good” is what we call it. I’ve been following Jesus for seventy years. As these years mount up, every year this one week seems more foreboding than the same week the previous year. My sensitivity to spiritual things have sharpened causing the grief of Jesus’ tortuous pain of heart and soul to be more real. My friend, my teacher, my confident, the one who gives me life, was whipped and ordered to transport on his shoulder his torture instrument, the one on which he would die painfully. How can I walk into that day proclaiming it to be “good?” I’d rather use the ancient German term Gottes Freitag (God’s Friday). For indeed it is God’s Friday when Jesus, my confidant, the one with whom I share everything, walked into death.

But as I said to start with, Easter is coming. Weather notwithstanding, Easter will come. It always does. It comes every year. Easter Sunday follows the tragedy of God’s Friday. Easter will come. The remarkable thing is that when Easter comes, the day—rain or shine—is defined by the fact of Easter, the hope-filled, exuberant emotion of the day, not the weather. Easter gives the world a patina of grace. God has clothed the world in grace through the Messiah event. No political maneuvering of governments or nations, no enactments of laws by parliaments or legislators or dictators, no disasters of climate or unnatural upheaval, not even a rainy day can dampen grace-filled Easter when life is redefined with eternal significance. The darkness of Friday was a spiritual darkness, not a cloudy-day darkness. And so, the briliance of Easter Sunday is a spiritual victory, not a clearing away of a rainy sky.

1I’m not happy looking out the window at this gloomy, dreary, rainy Monday. But, this week, my sadness is not because of the weather; it’s because of what lies between today and Sunday morning, Easter Sunday morning.

I hope you’ll join me on Easter after going through the agony of “God’s Friday; for life fills with hope of spring flowers on Easter Sunday, a hope that gives meaning to life, even in the middle of the fear, upheaval, and uncertainties, which you and I encounter. This Easter will be a beautiful, bright day even though clouds cover the sky and rain falls.


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