Ugly Easter

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I just googled "Easter".  I don't know why I'm surprised, but I find it discouraging that it took 40 images of bunnies, eggs, and candy before an image of the cross appeared.  Really?  Forty chicks and ducks and pastel colored whatchamacallits before stumbling upon an image reminiscent of the true meaning of Easter?

I love Easter.  I've loved it since the spring of my childhood when I can remember picking out white patent leather shoes and a new dress to wear to church for Easter Sunday.  I love the traditions of the holiday, from the creepy guy dressed up in the giant bunny suit (okay, not that as much maybe) to the brightly colored eggs hidden across a fresh green lawn just waiting for children to find.  I love the meal, the family gathering, the baskets, the candy, and all the fresh, spring-timey colors that help announce warmth and light are risen indeed.

 But, as a Christian, I can't love all the beauty of Easter without also falling in love with the gore behind it.  Lest I forget that the first Easter began as a horror story; a confusing, unjustifiable nightmare that real, live people witnessed and took part in.  I can not turn my face to the sun without acknowledging the darkness behind us.   Good Friday is just a few days away, and I can't help but imagine what that first holy week felt like for so many.

Easter sermons, reading the Bible, and even watching films that depict the crucifixion allow us to know and imagine much of what happened leading up to Jesus' death.  I have a hard time grasping the reality of what Jesus endured because it is just so unfathomable as a human.  But, when I look at the faces of his friends, when I imagine the heart of his mother, Mary, I shudder at the thought of how utterly human they were in those moments.  While Jesus was 100% human, he was also 100% God; something that I'm very limited in empathizing with.

But, I can much more easily relate to those who witnessed the death of the Messiah, and it is very nearly equally unfathomable.  As many questions as we have today about faith and theology, can you imagine how confusing it must have been for them back then?  Not knowing what was going to happen to Jesus???  I can't imagine it!  The truth is, that first Easter wasn't pristine and celebrated with lilies and new dresses.  That first Easter was ugly and confusing right up until the very last moment.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!

Today, we have the luxury of learning the story of Easter from the end to the beginning.  We celebrate the resurrection because we know He died on the cross three days prior; but, I take for granted the fact that there was a time when people didn't know that.  There was a time when Jesus was dead.  There was a time when Jesus was mourned for.  There was a time when Jesus was gone.  I can't understand that.  I can't emotionally grasp what that must have been like.  I never want to know that feeling, and I'm grateful I didn't have to endure it.

Instead, we have the immense privilege of remembering on Good Friday and not enduring.  We don't have to ever live without the knowledge that JESUS IS ALIVE and nothing will every change that.  And while we get distracted by the ham, the flowers, the egg hunts, and shiny shoes...let's not forget this weekend that we are so insanely blessed to live in this time and space where we can grasp the entire story of Easter and its true meaning.

As you're stuffing candy into little plastic eggs, as you're picking out your Sunday best, and as you're Pinteresting those last minute recipes, set aside a moment to slow down and remember the entirety of Easter.  It might take 40 images to get to the cross on google, but it only takes one prayer to transport me right back at the feet of Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus, for the cross.  Thank you for bearing what I can not.  Thank you for taking on the worst parts of me, the stuff I don't even realize, the stuff I never reveal, the stuff I can never admit.  Thank you for providing a way for me to know God, eternally.  Thank you for loving me unconditionally, choosing to endure every pain possible over letting me go.  Thank you for the grace you offer so freely and so undeservingly.  Keep me humble, God.  Keep me patient.  Keep me remembering.  Keep me present at Your feet.  Thank you for Easter.

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