What’s your favorite holiday? The one you love coming back to year after year? For me, it’s the one we’re celebrating this week. Easter is, hands down, my favorite holiday of the year. And I deeply love Advent and Christmas!
So why Easter? One reason is related to my childhood experience of growing up in a country that goes all out for Easter, even taking two weeks off from school to celebrate it. This same country gave us the Easter acclamation, “Xrestos anesti!” “Alethos anesti!” Or if you prefer, “He is risen!” “Risen indeed!”
But even deeper than my childhood memories of Greek Easter celebrations is the message of Easter. I love what Easter orients us toward, what Easter creates the possibility of, what Easter introduces into our human metanarrative. Here are three great ideas in Easter that I find compelling.
1) God brings new life! The timing of Easter each year connects with the annual transition (at least for Northern Hemisphere dwellers) from the dark, cold, dormant winter months into the brightening, warmer, budding season of spring. As we see vibrant flowers emerge from the soil, fresh leaves from bony tree branches, and green hills from brown, we’re reminded that our Creator is the Lord of life. This new life is evident not only in the renewal of nature but in human transformations that the Gospel message brings about. As Luther wrote, “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in the books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”
2) The worst is not the last. Easter does not downplay the reality of suffering, injustice, or death—Jesus experienced each of these. That Easter follows hard on the heels of Good Friday means that the gritty hardships of life cannot be eliminated, but they can be transcended. Entering into life with Jesus is not some magical amulet against grief or disappointment. However, the resurrection is God’s promise that the worst thing is never the last thing.
3) There is life after death. Death is the inescapable reality of our human existence. It’s one of the only things that is guaranteed on Earth: you will die. Ben Franklin quipped, “In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” While death comes for all of us, Easter introduces a huge plot twist in our “inescapable” ending. Death may indeed be guaranteed for us, but Easter declares that it is not the final word. There is something beyond death. The Gospel message includes the beautiful promise that by faith in Jesus, we will not perish (ultimately) but have everlasting life!
The upshot of all this is Easter’s message: He is risen! We live by hope. Hallelujah!