Easter is upon us once again and, as with most major holidays, memories of past Easters begin to invade my thoughts more frequently. Most of them are pleasant, like shish kabob lunches with our church family followed by egg wars and bocce ball. Some of them still come with just a twinge of sadness, like the memory of singing “Because He Lives” Easter morning just a few weeks after singing it at my grandfather’s funeral. Some of my favorite memories, though, are of the sunrise services when I was young.
Now back then, especially down south, we did real sunrise services. You get up early and you hold a service outside – which you could do, because unlike here in the arctic of Northern Indiana, it’s generally warmish outside. Everyone gathers and listens to scripture and sings great resurrection songs while the sun is just coming up and it’s easy to visualize what that first Easter might have been like. My favorite sunrise services were held in the cemetery. That may seem strange to some, but there is something special about making the very real connection between the resurrection of our Lord and the subsequent victory over the cold, hard reality of death. It’s easy to feel the power of Paul’s words as he declares that “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory? …Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Co 15:54-57). These words are truly the story of Easter in its simplest form. Our savior has gained victory over sin and death.
As you celebrate this weekend with friends and family, I hope you make some great memories of your own; but don’t forget to meditate on the life made possible because of Jesus’ great sacrifice. Remember that He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities. Remember that by His stripes we are healed. Remember that by his shed blood we gained the possibility of forgiveness from sin. Remember it is in Him we are justified. Remember, that if not for His sacrifice, all other memories and experiences –no matter how wonderful – would be meaningless.
With those thoughts in mind, I pray that you each enjoy a blessed Resurrection Weekend rejoicing in the great gift of life our Savior purchased for you.