Now, let me ask you something profound yet troubling. If you became believers because you trusted the proclamation that Christ is alive, risen from the dead, how can you let people say that there is no such thing as a resurrection? If there’s no resurrection, there’s no living Christ. And face it—if there’s no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors. Not only that, but we would be guilty of telling a string of barefaced lies about God, all these affidavits we passed on to you verifying that God raised up Christ—sheer fabrications, if there’s no resurrection. -1 Corinthians 15:12-15 , from the Message Bible
While we’re still in Easter season of the church, I am thinking back to this past Easter Sunday weekend, March 25-26, 2016. Do you remember what you did that weekend, or what Easter Sunday worship was like for you? Did this week have some times in it to help bring you closer to God?
This Easter was different for me in some ways. Between a whirlwind trip and bittersweet images of past, present, and future, my mind kept being brought back to the image of the risen Christ.
That weekend, Good Friday had brought its typical sorrow at thinking of Jesus’ death on the cross. But that Good Friday was also the anniversary of my grandmother’s death. Remembering brought a sense of sadness at the great loss of her presence with us, but also a sense of joy in remembering my grandmother’s life well-lived. All this was framed into the powerful image of the risen Christ who came that Sunday and took away the worst sting of death.
My mind traveled even further back to a time when we were children visiting my grandparents over an Easter weekend. A big thunderstorm came through on Saturday night, frightening us all. I finally went to sleep, only to awake early the next morning, about 1 a.m., still feeling nervous. Our family tradition was to have Easter candies waiting for the children on Easter Sunday morning. I went looking for the candies and was soon joined by my sister who had also woken up. Papa came in and gently told us to go back to sleep; all was okay. This may be like the message that our heavenly Father gives us with the Easter message: storms will come, but the new day will dawn. Easter morning will come--and Christ is already there with a promise of something special awaiting for us. All will be okay.
Our whirlwind trip the 2016 Easter weekend saw my husband and I driving westward from our home in North Carolina to the South Carolina-Georgia border. There we'd meet up with my parents, who were driving eastward to meet us. The point of the trip? My father wanted to hand over his car to me. My parents had made a successful move into a new retirement community and had decided they just didn’t need two cars anymore. They wanted me to have the extra car.
So, after a few hours drive, my husband and I arrived at the highway rest stop between South Carolina and Georgia. I went outside the car to sit and wait. A friendly young man came up, about college age, and sat next to me. I told him I was looking for my parents and that we were going to have a picnic. He told me that God had laid it up on his heart to talk and pray with me.
He also said that he was trying to know God. And so we began talking about Easter in general. I told him he could pray with me about us having a safe trip. He did, and then I gave him a hug, and went back to where my husband was waiting in the car. We waited and watched for the parental unit to arrive.
After a while my parents came driving up, my dad in his car and my mom in hers. They'd brought food from a nearby restaurant for us to share. We spread it all out on one of the rest stop picnic tables and had our picnic together. As we ate we chatted about things and Dad gave me instructions on how to use the car that was now mine.
Then, the time was over. We watched Dad get into my mom's car, then together they drove away. As that lone car disappeared down the highway, my husband and I were now the ones getting into two cars. As proud as I was of my parents making a good transition into the retirement community--and as happy as we were to get the car (we surely can use it), I have to admit that as I was driving back toward our home, some sadness was sitting in the front seat beside me, too. Another change had come. We'd reached a new stage of our lives. Our tomorrows would all be different from what we’d known before. That is a bit scary. Tomorrow with a nice car now to drive would be great. But thoughts of a tomorrow, now a step closer, when my parents are no longer in this earthly life? That is a tomorrow that I don’t like to think about.
As all this came together in my mind, I realized that that first Easter weekend brings the most powerful hope and comfort I could imagine. Our losses get overshadowed by the hope of the Easter resurrection, a time that teaches us what it is like to have new life in Jesus Christ. New life in Christ means things we’ve never experienced before. But that new life also brings a promise of Christ already there, saying, "Peace be to you," and with something special waiting for us. Christ will see us through whatever may come. All will be okay.
And in that new life, our bodies will not wear out at all. As Christians, we believe in the hope of promised eternal life with God. That is basic to our beliefs. Good Friday is good because Jesus rises on Sunday to win over death!
We need this annual reminder of the Christian faith, hope, and love. I hope it is that way in your life, in this past Easter for you, and for your every tomorrow. My prayer is that whatever joys and sorrows you have mixed into this particular stage of your life, that you keep this reminder close to your heart and soul: Christ has risen! Christ has risen indeed!
Marci McGowan is a long-time DisciplesNet team member and regularly shares her gifts. You can find other of her devotions here. Marci is a member of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Asheville, North Carolina, USA.
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