I lived on a street that boasted 5 churches in a 3 block radius- Episcopalian, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian. Almost every Saturday there was a wedding somewhere... The church bells would ring out as the precession of cars passed by, happily blaring their horns. Other days, I observed the mournful creep of funeral precessions led by a motorcycle cop. The church bells tolled on these days too... more slowly... sadly. Easter was a busy day as well, like a wedding or a wake. Cars lined the streets & people poured out of the churches in their best attire. Bells rang out from various steeples in a cacophony of sound. And by noon, it was all over. All was quiet until the next event.
However, Easter was never much of an event to me. I knew the "Passion story"... I saw the banners that said "He is Risen!", I observed people dressed to the hilt, heading for church on Good Friday & Easter Sunday. As a child, though I was "saved", what Easter meant to me was a basket from my father (most years) & a Palmer's chocolate bunny from my mom. It meant Cadbury creme eggs & marshmallow peeps. Easter was synonymous with coloring eggs in art class at school. It meant getting my picture taken with someone in a creepy looking bunny suit... It meant pastel colours & the arrival of spring. But it never really meant the death & resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I've always observed Easter much like I observed wedding & funeral precessions. There's a sense of tradition associated with each. I don't get baskets & bunnies anymore. I make it a point to decline photo opportunities with giant rabbits & I might snag the occasional Cadbury Creme Egg, but that's where my particular tradition ends. Yet Easter is supposed to be the "Who, What, When Where, Why & How" of my faith. How easily I pass by as part of the precession, lights on, respectful... Jesus died on a cross for the sins of the world. That's nice. Thank You, Jesus. And on Sunday, I'll hear "He's Risen!". The stone was rolled away! I'll throw some confetti. Its tradition.
But Easter will be nothing more than a tradition until I realize the "precession" I'm in isn't just for Jesus on a cross- its also for me. Jesus died for Me. The celebration of His resurrection is mine to share as well. Just as He was raised up to life by God's power, so I too have been raised to life by that very same power. And when the stone of my tomb was rolled away, there was great rejoicing in heaven... "She is risen! She lives!" That same power that raised Jesus up also raised me up from death to life... The old is gone, the new has come. And if that's not a reason to celebrate Easter, I don't know what is. Thanks be to God for rescuing me from sin & death...