Today is Easter Eve, though I’ve never heard it called such a thing, and I’m finding myself on a sweet stroll down memory lane. Won’t you join me?
What characterized the Easters of your childhood? What made this cherished church holiday special for you? A brand new outfit? Waking up to an Easter basket brimming with goodies? A sunrise service or Sunday afternoon feast with your family, close and extended? A city-wide egg hunt ablaze in color and chaos? Day-by-day deconstructing a Resurrection egg set to examine tiny symbols that represented the life of Christ?
With a big grin and a bit of horror, I recall the coordinating pastel dresses my sister and I wore when I was about four, complete with crunchy crinoline skirts, white bowler hats, and shiny patent leather shoes. “Fancy” is relative, yes? I also remember being a beast when it came to hunting for Easter eggs. Never was I more fierce or competitive than when a contest for most eggs found or a golden egg was at stake. It was in your best interest not to get in my way because you just might come face to face with a 35-pound steamroller determined to win a prize.
Are your earliest Easter memories similar or something entirely different?
Fast forward many years to when I became a mother with three children of my own. It never occurred to me until right now how closely the practices of my own childhood inspired Easter traditions for our family. New, coordinating outfits for our daughter and two sons; maybe not crinoline for Rachel, but all three matchy-matchy (until I finally learned that didn’t actually have to be a thing). Baskets filled and waiting right outside their bedroom doors. Attending church somewhere, wherever we happened to be that morning. A glorious lunch with our extended family (or friends when we had to be apart), anchored by glazed ham, potato salad, deviled eggs, and way too many sweets. And an egg hunt — always an egg hunt — except now my competitive beast mode for finding the prized or most eggs was proffered for my babies.
Memories are golden when they connect our present to happy or special moments from our past, aren’t they? While it’s unhealthy to live in the past or to become stuck in a rut of longing for the “good ol’ days,” telling and re-telling the stories of our lives can build unity, familiarity, and identity among family members. These are good things.
Easter traditions, in terms of norm and practice, vary from family to family, church to church, denomination to denomination, and even culture to culture. How we commemorate this holy holiday doesn’t matter a bit, but why we celebrate Easter is essential. Jesus, Holy God wrapped in human flesh, lived a perfect life, and in doing so, was able to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins by surrendering Himself to the brutality of the cross, atoning for each sin and redeeming our lives with His precious blood. And then, in news too good to be true (but nonetheless true), He conquered death, rose again, and according to Acts 1:3, ” . . . presented himself alive to [the apostles he had chosen] by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”
Beyond the four gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection, Paul tells us that He “appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time” (1 Corinthians 15:6 CSB). Paul supported the veracity of such a startling claim, dispelling any notion it was some fairytale conjured by the apostles. Jesus had risen, and He was wise and faithful to show Himself to many.
We celebrate Easter because it is a powerful, remarkable, beautiful true story and because God alone is worthy of our praise, adoration, and worship.
Jesus spent three years in ministry, revealing truth by the way He lived and loved. I have to smile in appreciation of how He lived out this quote, long before any philosopher, preacher, or teacher gave us a model about how to deliver a memorable speech:
First tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them.
And then tell them that you’ve told them.
– Author Unknown
Except His was a memorable life. Hallowed Scripture foreshadowed the coming of Christ and hinted about God’s plan for redemption (tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em). Then, Jesus came to earth and lived as a man so we might know God, and in light of that, how to live (tell them). And after His resurrection, He spent His last days on earth reminding His followers of what He had already told them, equipping them for ministry and enabling them to understand the mystery of what had escaped them prior to His death (tell ’em what you’ve told ’em).
The powerful truth about Easter is Jesus’ victory over sin and death.
The remarkable truth about Easter is Jesus’ complete obedience to God and His willingness not only to pay the price for our sin, but also to offer forgiveness and new life to those who follow Him.
The beautiful truth about Easter is that Jesus always delivers what He promises, He loves us no matter what, and in the closing pages of Matthew, He offers us the hope we’ll need when we’re prone to doubt or forget:
“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20b (CSB)
Take a moment to share a special Easter memory (from childhood or more recent), or better yet, share a powerful, remarkable, or beautiful Easter truth the Lord has revealed to you!
The beautiful truth about Easter is that Jesus always delivers what He promises and He loves us no matter what. -@robindance: Click To Tweet