Do you have memories of past Easters? I have a few.
When I was pastoring a church in southeast Texas, near the Louisiana/Texas border, it was their custom to hold an Easter Sunrise service on the large ball field behind the church. I remember making a decision to move the service to a cemetery about a mile from church. We held it close enough to a mausoleum so we could connect power for the PA system and keyboard. It is one of those memories that lingers.
Even in southeast Texas, Easter mornings could be cool and damp, just enough to be unpleasant. Some of the members brought a truck-load of metal folding chairs to the site for those who did not think to bring their lawn chairs. I remember how cold those chairs felt. I remember arriving in the dark, and beginning the service just as the sun was coming up. I remember how surprised I was that so many people attended the service, even members of the community who had heard about our crazy plan. It just seemed to be the right place to be for a celebration of a resurrection from the dead.
I also remember overhearing a conversation that my older son had with his younger brother about wearing cowboy boots. Jacob asked Joshua, “How do you know if you have them on the right feet?” Josh didn’t hesitate. “If it hurts, you have it wrong.” I smiled quietly and weighed the wisdom in his counsel.
“If it hurts you have it wrong.” Some Christians feel that way about death in the light of Easter. As if there should be no sorrow because we know the truth of Jesus’ words,
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Yes Lord, we believe! Yes Lord, I know that death is just the pathway to life eternal. BUT, but, but, but… but there is still this ache in my heart over the death of those I have loved on earth. Christians might be tempted to say, “If it hurts, you have it wrong.” But I don’t think that is a true reflection of God’s attitude about death, even the death of a Christian.
Paul, the Christian leader God chose to travel the world and bring the truth of God’s love to non-Jewish people, once wrote:
“We do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.”
Notice, Paul did not say, “If it hurts, you have it wrong.” Death hurts. Death has a sting to it. Even though I know I will see my father and my younger brother again in heaven. Even though I am glad their suffering on earth has ended and they were released from their pain. Even though I believe they are experience what the prophet David called, “fullness of joy.” I still miss them. When I think of them, there is still a tender spot in my heart that will never completely heal. I think that is proper. I believe some sadness is even God’s will for the most important relationships on earth. Paul did not say Christians have no grief. He said, “We do not grieve like others who have no hope.”
I know that my Redeemer lives. I know a day is coming when I will be with Jesus and see my loved ones, or He will return to earth bringing with Him those who have fallen asleep in Him. If I’m honest, I need to “own” my sadness. My sadness is not for them and what “might have been.” Nothing they might have experienced on earth can compare to the glory and joy and completeness they experience with God in heaven. My sadness is personal pity which should have its limits.
I have a friend who volunteers at our reception desk. She has been through some tough medical issues, even diagnosed with life-threatening cancer. She’s taught me a lot about handling bad news. She has a three day rule. She allows self-pity for three days after receiving bad news, and then goes into challenge mode. Nothing good will come from constant self pity and she’s smart enough to know that. She grieves, but not like the rest who have no hope.
Are you still grieving loss? Loss from death, loss from a debilitating disease or accident? Loss of income? Loss of importance? Loss of a friend? Loss of perceived value? Loss of your youth? Loss of distance on your golf-drive?…(just checking to see if you were still reading)
You have the right to grieve, just not like those who have no hope. Remember the words of Jesus, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:17.
- What loss have you suffered that bothers you the most?
- What do you think of the 3-day pity party rule?
- What difference does the victory of Jesus make in overcoming loss?
Does Easter make you…
A. Heartbroken over those you have lost?
B. Joyful over the victory from the grave?
C. Full from Easter Dinner?
D. Long for the Masters Golf Tournament?
Click here to answer the question and to leave a comment about your own Easter memories.
If you were unable to attend services last week or would like to hear a message based on Matthew’s account of Jesus birth, visit our website at www.stjstl.net and click on a teaching link. A Bible study is also available for you to download.
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Join us at http://www.stjstl.net/media/live-stream/
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to earth as a baby so many years ago. Thank you that He paid the punishment for my sins by dying on the cross. And thank you that He rose again to prove that death was truly defeated. I place my trust in You to be my Savior. Guide me through the dark times of my life and give me courage to live for You. Amen
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Click on the links below to find out more about these events on our campus:
Kingdom Rock Vacation Bible School Registration Open
Extreme VBS Registration Open
Blood Drive on Sunday, April 14
Stephen Hower, Pastor
Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14
(and to lower my golf score)
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