Easter, for me, conjures up a black and white picture of a blonde little girl sandwiched between two siblings. This little girl, now a grandmother, was decked out in white, ruffled socks, a pink, polyester coat with a matching pink straw hat and lacy gloves.
That particular little, blonde girl remembers those black and white Easter Sunday mornings as if they were yesterday.
We were always up long before dawn for the Easter Morning Sunrise Service. It was the only day of the year I was out of bed before daylight began to slither its jeweled fingers across the inky sky.
The church smelled like pancakes, maple syrup, sausage and strong coffee when our sleepy family of five walked into the front doors. My mom scurried to the organ and my dad got us settled somewhere near the front, left-hand side.
Our Methodist congregation burst forth the news as the sun broke through, "Up from the grave He arose! With a mighty triumph o'er His foes." I can still hear it. I can still hear the voices of Duane Grehlinger and Shirley Green. I can still hear the alto of Alice Dix and the sweet tenor of Reverend Tauscher. Although their voices broke on the high notes and struggled for pitch on the low notes, they believed what they sang. That is all that really counts about Easter ... that you simply believe.
After breakfast in the cold church basement, warmed by the steaming pots of coffee and laughter of friends who had truly become family, we traipsed home across the yards of our neighbors for an hour or so before Sunday school and the 10:00 a.m. main service. During that sweet hour, we would find our Easter baskets, have our hair combed and curled again while listening to the Easter story read by my general of a father.
Dad loved the Bible, he loved my mom, he loved the garden and he loved us. He was quite a man. Dad believed in Easter. He taught me to believe as well. Did I mention that he was quite a man?
"For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: how Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and was seen by Cephas, and then by the twelve. Then He was seen by over five hundred brothers at once, of whom the greater part remain to this present time, though some have passed away. Then He was seen by James and then by all the apostles. Last of all, He was seen by me also, as by one born at the wrong time" (1 Cor. 15:3-8, MEV).
Paul, the one who was untimely born, calls Easter the event "of first importance" in anything that he has ever known or written about. Those are some fairly impressive words coming from one of the most learned men of the day.
Paul's words echoes through the ages, "Nothing compares to the message of the Risen Savior."
When it comes down to it, there is nothing more important in your life than Easter.
When you get to the end of your life, all that will matter is Easter.
There is nothing that deserves your earthly attention so much as Easter.
I remember the days of white socks with ruffles around the top, little pink purses and lacy gloves. I remember the thrill of finding the Easter basket and looking forward to the sumptuous dinner that was to follow. I remember singing, "We serve a risen Savior, He's in the world today! I know that He is living whatever men may say!"
What I didn't know in those innocent days of celebrating a spring holiday was that someday ... I would believe, too. And at the very moment that I chose to believe, Easter changed from being a mere 24 hours in the early spring to a lifestyle of hope and joy. I no longer refer to it, either mentally or verbally as "Easter Sunday." For me, it is "Resurrection Day!" And, trust me, it is incomplete without that exclamation mark!
Jesus really was born in a manger ... He really did live among us ... He was put to death on the old rugged cross ... and He was buried.
But what happened next was the true miracle ... He rose from the dead! He conquered death triumphantly!
Jesus had the first Word ... the middle Word ... and the last Word! Because death could not hold Him ... it cannot hold you either.
Will you stay in your world of black and white presumptions? Or will you join the chorus of all the ages and sing with gusto, "Because He lives ... I can face tomorrow ... Because He lives ... all fear is gone!"
The truth is this ... when you get to the end of your life ... the resurrection will be all that matters. It was all that mattered to Duane Grehlinger ... to Shirley Green ... to Alice Dix ... and to Reverend Tauscher. It was all that mattered to Paul and it was all that mattered to my dad. He was quite a man.
And ... it's all that matters to me. It is my message of first importance. Resurrection Day!
Please make sure that you don't forget the exclamation mark ... while you're at it ...let's make it two! It is, after all, the message of first importance.
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, including No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released last August. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "A Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol at justjoyministries.com.
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