Emancipated by the empty tomb: An Easter Epiphany
When leaning against the sink washing endless dishes piled high, it suddenly came to me. It’s funny how many ‘epiphanies’ occur when we are in the midst of the mundane tasks of everyday life. The dishes, the laundry, picking up lego off the floor. Easter is the main gig in the Christian calendar, even bigger than Christmas. That He is risen is the heart of Christianity, the very essence and epitome of our faith. But the essence of Easter is almost something that we can take forgranted at times. And in our deeply secular culture it’s not hard to see why. There are no christian programmes broadcast on the telly this year, not even Praise Be. And the All Blacks are playing on Good Friday. This would never have been the case years ago. It’s a poignant reminder of the secular state of our nation.
Eternal life. I know that it isn’t really in my job description to convince others of the of the resurrection. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. And at Easter we reflect on the resurrection and I am encouraged to know that historical evidence for the resurrection abounds. A discussion of all the evidence for the resurrection is beyond the scope of this little blog post, but I can recommend the book ‘The Case for Christ’ by Lee Strobel for further reading. He’s also written another book called ‘The Case for Easter.’ Driven by interest in his wife’s sudden conversion, this journalist was a former atheist whose faith in atheism was slain after examining the evidence for Easter in the resurrection of Christ. He writes “The evidence is what tipped the scales… [I said to myself] ‘If this is true, then Christ deserves my allegiance, my world, my all.’
Just this week one of my good friends gave her heart to the Lord, all in God’s wonderful timing. Many of us have rejoiced with her and celebrated with her the new life that she has. Only last year, another friend had a revelation of Jesus, an ‘epiphany’ when sitting at her kitchen table. Light flooded across the table, and she just knew that God was real. Then she googled ‘How to become a Christian’ and google told her. Thanks for google! She knelt down in her bedroom and gave her heart to the Lord. She has an amazing story. Another friend had a similar epiphany when in a womens clothing store! God is everywhere.
It sounds like foolishness to those who don’t believe, craziness almost. And the cross is offensive isn’t it, to so many. But for us who believe it is the power of God and it is a reflection of God’s extravagant and everlasing love for us – that He gaves his only begotten son. That Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb is the essence of our emancipation and that He is risen again is the hope of all the world. It’s life changing. And what are we emancipated from? Eternal separation from God may be a good place to start. And from ourselves. Emancipated from our slavery to sin. And for each of us there will be different strongholds, different sins, different areas of struggle. Pride, self-centredness, hatred, vanity, the chains of unforgiveness, shame, fear. Trauma. Not only do we have eternal life in heaven when we die, but we also have abundant life here on earth. A life of freedom. We can be free from having to fit into a box. Free from conforming to cultural stereotypes and from the expectations of others. Freedom from what people think. Freedom to be ourselves, just the way God created us to be. Quirks and all. Are you living a life of freedom today? I’m not as free as I would like to be, but I would like to think that I am freer than I used to be.
Last week our family had the privilege of attending a church service in our town where the Duchess or Cambridge were present. It wasn’t our usual church, but like many others, we went along to get a glimpse of the royal couple. And they are an impressive couple, striking, yet by reputation (as I didn’t get to chat with them) very warm and down to earth. It was an exciting day. It’s strange though our fascination with royalty, as William and Kate really are just people like us. People with hopes and fears. And in the eyes of God we are all equal. And we as believers know have been chosen, set apart and adopted into God’s royal family. I’ve learned that there is a difference between having an intellectual understanding of truth and having a revelation of it in our heart. Has Jesus as the King of Kings taken His rightful place on the throne in our life?
My two daughters were recently given a Princess Bible to share. I know that many debate whether the ‘Princess Preoccupation Syndrome’is all that healthy for girls. I’ve named this syndrome, however there does seem to be a syndrome for everything these days. But l would have loved something like this when I was a kid. Interestingly, my parents, although not christians, bought me a bible when I was seven years of age. At the young age that my daughters are I’m convinced that it’s fairly harmless. Besides, the message that it conveys is that they are God’s little princesses, and there are simple character studies of women in the Bible, demonstrating that their value is in Christ, and not in looking pretty, or being talented, smart or popular. How many adults need a reminder of this message too.
Eucharisteo – The Essence of Easter
I’ve been reading the acclaimed book ‘One Thousand Gifts’ by Ann Voskamp recently, and admiring the beauty evident in her writings. She talks plenty about the Greek word ‘Eucharisteo’. Initially it was all greek to me, but essentially it means to be thankful. And one of the questions she asks in her book is ‘How do we fully live when life is full of hurt?’. There are no easy answers. But Jesus asks us to be of good cheer, because He has overcome the world. Are we overcomers? I’ve been emancipated from many things in my life and there are other areas that I need more freedom in. It takes tenacity to walk with Jesus. The way of the cross is not frilly or easy, nor a bed of roses. If only it were.
I don’t really have any profound or intuitive insights to enrich my experience of Easter. But I know that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. That He lives is reason enough to get out of bed each morning. Eucharisteo seems to be the heart and essence of Easter. To give thanks and to experience the everlasting love and grace of God resurrected in our hearts. And I know that I need more of His exhaustive grace. And more joy. To delight in and enjoy God and to enjoy a full life. Jesus did not die for us to be miserable. And to be thankful. ………………..And it’s a little bit about chocolate too. I’m off to hide the easter eggs for the children’s easter egg hunt.