Easter is the most important, significant, and meaningful remembrance of Jesus. And yet it receives much less publicity and celebration than Christmas. This might be because generally it is much easier for us to become excited and celebrate a baby's birth than a man's murder. The birth of a baby is also common to human experience; crucifixion thankfully is not. People can get excited about buying gifts for each other and our economy has grown dependent on the spending that goes on during the Christmas season. There are lots of reasons that Christmas gets more press than Easter, not the least of these is getting our arms around Jesus' resurrection from the dead. And yet Easter is the religious ceremony of the Christian faith. As Paul suggests, without Easter, we have no Christian faith.
Easter helps us remember and celebrate the greatest expression of God's love. I cannot do justice to such a subject in such a short space, but we cannot separate Jesus' resurrection from his crucifixion. His death and rising are the heart of the Christian experience. One deals with sin and the other with a new order of creation. Dr. Robert Mulholland, a New Testament scholar at Asbury Theological Seminary, calls it "God's cruciform love". Simply, God's being cannot do anything else but crucify himself on our behalf so that we might participate in His nature. In other words, God created us to be with Him so He removes what separates us from Him.
In my last blog, I quoted Thomas Merton that at its root sin is a failure to love. God never sins and always loves; it is who He is. In another blog, I quoted Henri Nouwen that love means "intimacy, closeness, mutual vulnerability and a deep sense of safety". While there is a tremendous amount that can be said about what love is, this definition captures the relational aspect of love. Easter reminds us that God has made an open door to participate in His love. He has made it possible for us to be intimate, close, vulnerable and safe with Him and therefore with each other. Easter affirms that God is love and that His love is the greatest force imaginable that it raises the dead. His love gives new life where there is no life.
Please consider where in your life there is deadness or failure to demonstrate love. Who are you struggling to love? Does your marriage feel dead? Does fear dominate your relationships and your life? Do others feel unsafe with you? Do you believe that you don't need others? Do you think that you have to live life manipulating and maneuvering to get what you need? All of these are failures to love; please consider that God gives new life where there is none. Easter reminds us that nothing is hopeless, nothing is dead forever. Celebrate Easter in your life!