Monday, April 1, 2013

At the Heart of Easter

This past Saturday my parents came out to visit me, along with my sister Hannah. It had been a busy week for me as I was preparing for three Easter services at our church. Still, I managed to get all my work done and the house clean. I was so excited to see my family. I squeezed little Hannah for like 10 minutes. I've always been close with my family, but the older I get, the more I realize that family is everything. Family and friends that is. Without people in your life, without a community of loved ones, life would be completely empty. Even God himself is a community- the Father, Son, the Holy Spirit. Surely God knows the significance of community. It is why we exist at all- to have RELATIONSHIP with God.

Really soon after my parents arrived, Peter and I took them to the local Farmers Market downtown Ann Arbor. I had never been there before and I was a little nervous that maybe it wouldn't impress them, but we had a great time :) We walked in and out of all the little shops, bought some pastries, looked long and hard for some daffodils (which we eventually found elsewhere), and just embraced the joy of being together. Dad caught me up on all his latest puns ;) You know you're a dad when you pull out the puns. Just sayin.     
Saturday went by far too quick. By the end of the day I was crying fat crocodile tears as I said my goodbyes. Peter held me tight as my family drove away. I had to go to bed early that night, since Sunday would be a little crazy for me. As already mentioned, Sunday I lead the worship and choir for three services. The choir was an absolute delight to work with. They had so much enthusiasm and spirit. The kind that is fitting for celebrating the fact that JESUS IS RISEN. Even still, I think sometimes we as Christians have a hard time getting into Easter. 

The Daffodils dad bought me :)
Maybe it's because we've heard the story so many times over and over. We struggle to make it real, authentic, personal. I think too often we cannot wrap our minds around the fact that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was extremely personal- that it was for YOU, that it was for me. We forget that Jesus weeps over our pain and suffering. We forget that in our darkest moments Jesus is sitting right beside us holding us, praying for us. Maybe we think to ourselves, "why would Jesus care for me, when there are so many other people to care for..."  At our latest small group I made a statement to everyone. I said, "You know what sometimes gets to me? The fact that you read the old testament, and see God speaking to people in such awesome and miraculous ways. Through burning bushes, through clouds of fire, or an audible voice, it seems God is much more quiet..."As we all sat there and pondered, one of the guys spoke up: "I can't help but think that in the old testament, all the people ever wanted was a personal God, one who could speak directly to them. Instead people had to rely on the prophets for direction, or for Words from the Lord. Yes, they got all the "fireworks" of the Almighty, but they never had the intimacy. Today, because of Jesus sacrifice we have a personal relationship with God. We have what people two thousand years ago were dreaming of...".  For some reason this really hit me. So true. God doesn't need to part the seas or speak through burning bushes to get our attention anymore. We have his word; His LIVING word. We have his Spirit. We have a direct bridge to God. We don't need prophets to tell us how to live, where to go. His Word is the lamp to our feet. I feel like this leads me to my initial theme for this blog: community. Easter is about this very word. Because of Christ's death and resurrection, we have the ability to commune with God. The gap caused by sin has been bridged by the cross. Because God took our punishment upon himself we are now able to have community with Him. This truth is just so completely beautiful.

Friend, maybe your family is broken. Maybe your family continually fails to love you the way you need to be loved. Maybe you've never known any kind of healthy relationship or community. Let me tell you this: God wants you in his family. He loves you perfectly. Endlessly. I'm praying for you now- that the Easter story becomes real to you- that the heart of Easter can be born in you this very moment. Jesus is Risen. He is alive and well, healing us, and healing all of our broken relationships. Amen.