Just the word evokes thoughts of bird song and budding tree branches, spring dresses, pastel button downs and family photo opportunities in dewy grass before church. When I was little, we called it Resurrection Sunday and I remember feeling—as tangibly as the breeze on my skin—the spiritual significance of God having made all things new. I could smell it. It was encompassing and factual.
And then adulthood hit.
I don’t know about you, but I know about the majority: The weight of responsibility hits in adulthood and our faith is tested.
On the rainy days, when friends don’t show up, family members walk away, the mind and body ache, and you’re alone with a toddler and an infant and a cyclone of fears (or whatever your personal darkest hour is) the questions begin: Where is God? Why does he not answer more quickly, or make his presence known? Where is his comfort? Where is the joy and hope he promised?
Where is the sweetness of the Resurrection?
The truth of the Easter season is holy. God became a man who died as a sacrifice, an offering to the Father in exchange for our freedom. Jesus lived perfectly and died horrifically in pristine humility, shedding his blood as an atonement for the sins of the world. And he rose again. Three days in the grave, and he came alive again to prove his power over death. He broke the curse. He set us free. Isn't this good news?
This is the best news. This is enough to lift the darkest countenance up to heaven. It is, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like it. Not always. Not to everyone.
To the weary and broken, the overwhelmed and addicted, to the mother who can’t catch a break, to the abused little boy who grew up with no idea how to face responsibility, to the pregnant girlfriend cast out of his house because she won’t get an abortion, to all of us at one point or another, the story of Jesus can feel like little more than a fairytale. How does this strange story of a God who demanded a sacrifice, and a rabbi who died on a cross have anything to do with us? How is the resurrection story supposed to evoke rapturous joy? Sometimes Easter breakfast is more satisfying than the sunrise service, if we're brutally honest.
Over the next eight weeks, we will be taking a deeper look at the story of Easter. And this is why.
The sweetness of the Resurrection lies first in the knowledge of God.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Proverbs 9:10)
Next week, we will hear from a UGM resident who came from a Christian home, rejected the faith as an adult, threw away all his Bibles and Christian CDs, and ran from God to pursue his own pleasure, only to find that wherever he went, God was still there, pursuing him. Ultimately, Cody turned around, came to UGM and dove into the study of Scripture.
When we study the Word of God, we don't just get a good feeling or some sort of "good Christian" badge, we get an understanding of ourselves in light of God.
What did Daniel do when the Lord brought him to the throne of God in a vision? He fell to his knees, put his face to the floor, and became speechless. Then, when the Lord touched his lips, all he said was, "My Lord, because of the vision, I am overcome with anguish, and I have no strength. How can I, your servant, speak with you, my Lord? Now I have no strength, nor is any breath left in me." (Daniel 10:16-17)
Until we are made "breathless" at the notion of God, the existence of this all-righteous Creator and King, I posit that the need for a Savior to shed his blood on a cross will not strike us as that profound.
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