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Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

Easter 2The facts around Easter – Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is the son of God, dying for the sins of all who believe in him, then returning to life three days later – are beyond the sort of simple, quick understanding our culture demands.

Indeed, for a long time, Easter was a great mystery to me. But now, as a relatively new Christian, I can see what is surely good news for every human being who believes in a creator.

Consider the death of Jesus. It’s a death that could have been stopped. To the religious and Roman authorities of Jesus’ day, God could have said words to the effect of “Don’t you touch my boy”. But He didn’t.

As Philip Yancey writes in The Jesus I Never Knew, “I have marvelled at, and sometimes openly questioned, the self-restraint God has shown throughout history … but nothing — nothing — compares to the self-restraint shown that dark Friday in Jerusalem.”

The good news here is the gift of free will is for real. We can go to war against each other; we can spoil our nest through pollution and greed; we can even kill the son of God. Still, God won’t take that gift back. To me, that means He wants a relationship with real (read: very, very imperfect) people, not robots.

Now ponder the moment in the Bible where Jesus, on the cross, asked God to “forgive them (His killers); they don’t know what they’re doing.” In his book For Christ’s Sake, Tom Harpur saw that moment like this: “Jesus revealed there are no limits to God’s willingness to forgive and pardon. In a real sense, we can even stand there with those who nailed Jesus to the cross and, in our rage or despair, join in hammering the spikes. God still forgives.”

All this can be – and often is – written off quite logically by saying, well, Jesus was just another cool preacher who was killed by nasty people. End of story. But it’s not the end. The resurrection celebrated each Easter is as real to me as the computer I used to write this essay.

Nothing else could explain how apostles cowering in fear for their own lives could be transformed into world-changing evangelists and martyrs; they must have met the risen Christ.

Furthermore, in one of his letters in the Bible, St. Paul (one of the men most responsible for spreading Christianity in the Mediterranean) cites living witnesses to the resurrection. As Harpur writes, “St. Paul is saying those who do not believe him can go and find out for themselves.”

For me, then, the death of His Son is God making a case for complete forgiveness and free will to the court of humanity. Bringing Jesus back to life is the overwhelming proof – how better to forgive someone than to reverse their wrong altogether? Case closed.

Does this make sense to you? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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EasterEaster makes me smile.

It probably makes you smile, too, since it’s the reason so many people had a long weekend with Friday off.

But I have another reason. Whereas Christmas — as a religious holiday — was long ago bought, packaged and cleverly marketed by the Retail Council of Canada, Easter still carries the whiff of something spiritual that our culture can’t quite remove.

All the bunnies and painted eggs in the world don’t change the fact Good Friday isn’t called that just because a majority of us get the day off. It, and the weekend that follows, stands like a sentinel of something important and mysterious.

For people of faith, Easter is the dramatic climax of how God reached out to a broken world. It marks the time when Jesus Christ, considered by serious Christians to be God’s son, is transformed through death and resurrection. Around the world, the story is sung in ancient hymns and new pop songs, explored in sermons and re-enacted in plays.

The Bible paints Jesus’ death on a Roman Empire cross as a sacrifice to make up for all the past, present, and future wrongs committed by anyone who believes in him. Wrongs that imperfect people like me simply can’t make up for on our own.

For pastor Warren McDougall, who I chatted with about Easter, that amazing act can be seen as a metaphor for giving ourselves away — to our neighbor, community, or world. To set aside our egos and selfishness for a greater good. That is what serious Christians believe Jesus did on Good Friday.

“The instinct is to preserve yourself and, yet, the counter instinct is generosity, with your life and soul,” said Ken Davis, another pastor I spoke to about Easter.

“Jesus said if you want to be great, serve. And the people we consider truly great are those who truly serve.”

The resurrection takes us from the enormity of service-through-sacrifice to the joy of renewal.

“It’s about good overcoming evil, life overcoming death and that transformation is possible, even from negative things,” McDougall told me.

For Mark Giancola, a third pastor I chatted with (these folks are almost always great conversationalists), the entire weekend can be seen through the lens of “hope for a new relationship with God and a new future.

“So if someone’s searching beyond eggs and bunnies, Easter offers that. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been in life, this offers a new start.”

Agree? Disagree? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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