I always have trouble with this time of year: Lent, Good Friday. . . I do not want to deal with the deep visceral effect to myself from reflecting on the physical, emotional, and spiritual sufferings of Jesus. I just Do. NOT. Want. to go there! It will not make me a better person to agonize with Jesus year after year. There are 40 or 46 days to Lent (depending on whether you count Sundays or not). My character will not improve if I give up something I enjoy for a period of time. It may make me a crabby person! Maybe even resentful. I refuse to fill my days with gloomy thoughts and sadness. So I ignore Lent. I give up Lent for Lent! That promise is one which I can keep! Besides, God wants us to be happy, filled with joy, positive people.
Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord,
exulting in his salvation. Psalm 35:9 (ESV)
Sing aloud to God our strength;
shout for joy to the God of Jacob! Psalm 81:1 (ESV)
A glad heart makes a cheerful face,
but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. Proverbs 15:13 (ESV)
A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 (ESV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22 (ESV)
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 1 Peter 1:8 (ESV)
One might say it takes Lent to know the joy of Easter. Not for me. If I can rejoice continually at the birth of Jesus, I can rejoice continually with the resurrection of Jesus! Easter is POWERFUL, to put it mildly. Having a cursory knowledge of the agony Jesus had to suffer for my sins suffices for all I need to contemplate superficially and only occasionally.
Now don’t get me wrong! I am eternally grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made for ME (and YOU)! God did not make me strong enough to meditate on the immense suffering Jesus endured for the sake of everyone in the world! I don’t feel the need to crush myself emotionally annually to prove my love for God’s son, Jesus.
But Jesus DID suggest a way to remember without the visual scene of agony. That way is by the breaking of bread representing Christ’s body, and the drinking of wine which signifies his blood shed for the remission of our sins. The Eucharist is a holy time between Father and Child, celebrating the extreme gift given and renewing the personal vows we made at our own salvation time to love, honor, and worship the only one true God.
Easter brings joy, hope, promise, life, and the Easter Bunny with his adorable, delicious eggs. Does the secularism of Easter bother me? NO! I am into it totally! The Easter Bunny and his trappings of chocolate, Jelly Beans, hiding eggs, creating beautiful eggs, hanging them on trees, etc. make Easter a holiday everyone can celebrate whether they are Hindu, atheist, or worship the sun god. Even if one does not celebrate Easter as a miraculous event, they still KNOW the true meaning of Easter whether they believe it happened for real or not. And they celebrate the day — enjoying the family ham or lamb dinner, the cream filled chocolate eggs, and the Peeps! I love it that, Christian or not, the world celebrates both Christmas and Easter!
Christmas brings us cheer, peace, good will toward men, and hope. Easter brings us immeasurable JOY, love, gratitude, and hope.
Happy Easter!!! He is RISEN!!! Hallelujah!!!