This week begins the season of Easter – the celebration of the Resurrection. For the next few weeks we focus on Celebration and the implications of the Empty Tomb.
As I reflected on Lent this year, I realized something about Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Holy Week:
These three days are where we live our lives.
Friday is a day of suffering and death. Saturday is a day of waiting. Sunday is a day of celebration.
As we think over the rhythms of our lives, we typically find ourselves in one of these days. The Liturgical year teaches us how to live in these rhythms well. Lent teaches us to how to suffer. We look for redemption and the presence of God in the difficulty.
Holy Saturday reminds us of Advent. In this we learn to wait and make the proper margins for God to show up.
Easter teaches us to celebrate.
These are the places we find ourselves. We do not experience them in the neat and clean timelines of Lent, Advent, and Easter, but we set aside those times so we learn how to devote those rhythms of our lives to Jesus. We learn from Jesus how to navigate these rhythms.
It is bigger than just a season. It is a discipline which helps us make sense of our day-in, day-out existence.
Perhaps in the next few weeks we need to learn the Christian discipline of Celebration. Of understanding that we did not sign up for a new list of rules or an extra activity on Sunday. We signed on for freedom and life.
Maybe for a few weeks we need to practice the discipline of enjoying life and celebrating the good things Jesus brings. Because if we take this Easter thing seriously, Christians should be known a lot more for the kind of parties they throw.
But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.
The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”
Then they remembered that he had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.
Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee, after John began preaching his message of baptism. And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
“And we apostles are witnesses of all he did throughout Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him to life on the third day. Then God allowed him to appear, not to the general public, but to us whom God had chosen in advance to be his witnesses. We were those who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.”
Psalm 118:1-2; 14-24
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Let all Israel repeat:
“His faithful love endures forever.”
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has given me victory.
Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly.
The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!
The strong right arm of the Lord is raised in triumph.
The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!
I will not die; instead, I will live
to tell what the Lord has done.
The Lord has punished me severely,
but he did not let me die.
Open for me the gates where the righteous enter,
and I will go in and thank the Lord.
These gates lead to the presence of the Lord,
and the godly enter there.
I thank you for answering my prayer
and giving me victory!
The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing,
and it is wonderful to see.
This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
1 Cor 15:19-26
And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.
So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.
After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.
Lord, the resurrection of your Son
has given me a new life and a renewed hope.
Christ has overcome death
and opened up the gate of everlasting life.
Help me to live my life today
as a celebration of your grace and power.
Through your life-giving Spirit,
help me to live with energy and joy
so that others may experience resurrection in their lives.