Summary: "What Easter Means to Me" is a short from the heart sharing that covers six points: Excitement, anticipation, Surprise, Theology, Expectation, and Renewal.
WHAT EASTER MEANS TO ME 4-4-12
Bluefield VA UMC Lenten Service
1. Easter means EXCITEMENT about an EMPTY TOMB! I don't know about how it was for you, but when I was a very young fellow, Easter was a very important holiday. Now, I didn't know about the crucifixion, or the resurrection. I didn't know about empty tombs and appearances at several places in and around town.
What I did know about was Easter baskets, bunnies that left colored eggs, and all the candy one could possibly want! What I did know about was a new pair of shoes, a new shirt and pants, and a trip to Church. I don't recall EVER tying the two, Easter and Church, together, until I was much, much older.
And then, as I grew from, say age 6 or 7 to the early teens, some of the excitement started to wane. It started to fade. The holiday lost it's sparkle. It became rather like an old PEANUTS cartoon... you may remember this one, if you are a PEANUTS fan.
Snoopy was planning to attend a family reunion at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm in Petaluma. The cartoon strip went on for days, showing his anticipation and excitement. And finally, the big day arrived. He went, and returned home. Someone asked him how it was, and he said words that rang so very true. He said, THE ANTICIPATION FAR EXCEEDED THE ACTUAL EVENT. And that was my feeling pretty much, until I made a trip to Israel over 40 years ago...and visited a tomb that is said to have probably been the one. And it was empty. I still recall my thoughts and feelings as I let the anticipation build as the day approached when that would be a part of the activity. I remember walking up to the tomb, seeing that large circular rock, rolled to the side, and going inside that tomb. Some of you have been there, too.
And suddenly, the EXCITEMENT of the EMPTY TOMB was kindled within me, in a way that defies description. I cannot say much farther than this - BECAUSE HE LIVES, I CAN FACE TOMORROW! And that, my friends, is EXCITING!
2. Easter, to me, means ANTICIPATION! Because that tomb in Israel, those nearly 2,000 years ago was empty, I now anticipate a future that is so incredibly beyond belief that I scarely know where to start. Can you even begin to imagine meeting Jesus for the very first time, in visible form? Can you possibly wrap your mind around standing before God, and hearing Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant?" I might say I can, but, in reality, I cannot.
The long gone relatives that I want to meet, friends who were so dear, but now have been gone for years, but who are still remembered at odd times and moments, the freedom from the bodily limitations that confine us to this existence .... that old song that has the phrase BARS OF BONE HOLD MY SOUL, will be just a memory.
To learn things that have piqued my curiosity for years, to have Moses try to explain his feelings about seeing the promised land, but not being able to enter it ... to ask Noah about all those days in the Ark with all the animals? I wanna know who cleaned the stalls, with only 8 people on board!
And now, friends, I have a great expectation about EASTER, every year. I look forward to the rising sun on Sunday, April 8, this year, and knowing that another SON arose, and claimed victory over death, and has invited me ... me, mind you... Jerry... to share in that glorious experience!
3. EASTER, to me, means SURPRISE! Look at Mary and her friends, and the disciples, as they came to the tomb that first Resurrection morning! Of every thought that had come to them over recent days, of every experience they had endured, of seeing their friend JESUS on a cross, nail piercings, a spear wound ... and empty tomb was DEFINITELY NOT on their list of what they were going to see. I don't think the word, 'surprise,' is adequate to express some of what they must have surely felt.
But, then, I don't know what word WOULD suffice. Amazement? Astonishment? Dumbfounded? Awe? Miraculous? Incredible? Phenomenal?
I don't know what has been my life's biggest surprise...I know there have been many along the way... but the biggest? I just don't know. But I dare say that any of those folks who saw, first hand, the empty tomb would be able to tell you what their biggest surprise was!
And, now, in my own life, EVERY EASTER is a surprise, simply because I get to experience that thrill of knowing Whom I have believe, and I'm persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed to Him!