Experiencing Easter every day

Saturday, April 29, 2006

"Easter is my favorite holiday," exclaimed my sister-in-law, Cara. This was before I fully understood the value of Easter. I thought of it, aside from all the Church celebrations, as a time for family gatherings and fun. My image came complete with new spring clothes, an Easter egg hunt and family gatherings. A few years later I grasped the full significance of Cara's joy and discovered the reason behind her jubilance over Easter.

I finally understood why the Easter season (lasting from Easter Sunday until Pentecost) ought to be every Christian's favorite season. Without Christ's Easter gift there would be no real tomorrow. Even though we might be born into a world of pleasure if we're fortunate; that position will last for only an unpredictably brief time. Whatever earthly paradise we may enjoy during this life will "necessarily" be short lived. For without the death and resurrection of Jesus we would have no assurance of another existence.

One lasting forever, and offering far greater rewards than any we presently experience. Too, we'd have no guarantee that any pain we're now enduring would eventually end -- never to recur. Without Jesus' confirmation that we can rise and live again after physical death, we would be skeptical of our upcoming opportunity to enjoy good health and happiness during eternity. We'd believe our present life was all the time we had in which to accomplish all our missions and dreams -- the many goals we'd envisioned. Without the witness of Jesus' death and resurrection it would be difficult to imagine a life with God, the one who loves us most.

Indeed, Easter adds fervent hope to our lives. Because of it we need never fear but recognize that "anything" is possible to us. "I am come so that you may have life and have it more abundantly," John 10:10. I sometimes hear people with wavering faith question, "How can we know, for sure, that when we die we will rise again and begin a new life? No one has ever came back to tell about it. It's an unknown mystery." Until one genuinely "absorbs" the true ramifications of the death and resurrection, that statement possibly makes sense to many. But contrary to that belief, we "positively" have verification there's reason to rejoice in a future life, one residing in an indescribably wonderful place. "In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" John 14:2. Yes, someone has for sure died and came back to tell us about it -- that person named Jesus. He also brought authentication and assurance that heaven is "for real." We're asked only to believe.

Hurrah! Because of one Easter, we can rise every morning knowing it's time to relive Easter over and over and over again. We can constantly die to what's bad, ugly, sinful and painful and begin life anew each day; all because of that morning when Jesus regained His life to substantiate his promises fulfilling the will of his Father. That he was truly the King! Prophecy had been fulfilled. We could now definitely trust if That Man could die and come back to life, then indeed, we had nothing to fear. We had a rock above all rocks on which to stand -- a rock that could never be chipped, cracked, broken or crushed. Jesus Christ is the One supporting the stronghold of God that can never be toppled, burned or overthrown.

Consequently, I joyfully recognize that I can constantly get up each morning and face a new resurrection. I can rise from whatever death is holding me back in life, physically, mentally and spiritually.

Wow! I finally realized what my sister-in law meant when she declared that Easter was her favorite time of the year. For it's now mine too!

Ellen Shuck is director of religious education at St. Mary's Cathedral Parish.

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