By Jeff Pennington & Ryan Showalter
This morning, during family worship, the girls and I (Pastor Jeff) enjoyed reading yesterday’s conclusion to our Holy Week Reading Guide. Ken and Jeane Travis’ article is beautifully written, and their reflections on Jesus’ resurrection brought a fitting conclusion to the week of focus. As Ali and I led our girls through the prayer, we tweaked it a little. Rather than pray, “I bow before you on this Easter day with gratitude for Your work accomplished through Your Son, Jesus, on my behalf.” We prayed, “I bow before you on this Easter week with gratitude for Your work accomplished through your Son…”
Have you ever considered that indeed, this is the week that we are to most appropriately call Easter Week? When Jesus was resurrected, it did not conclude Holy Week, but rather, it initiated something entirely new. Yes, you cannot speak of resurrection without crucifixion, but everything about this week points us ahead. We are now raised to new life! That is why Paul writes in Romans 6:4, when explaining baptism, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism unto death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
When you think about resurrection this week, don’t do it just reflecting on what we celebrated the last. When you think about resurrection, let’s think forwardly. Resurrection is for today, and it should give us hope for tomorrow! Easter did not end the week of holy week; it started a new week, for Jesus was raised on Sunday, initiating something new.
Pastor Ryan helps us think of Easter in this way through this beautiful reflection on resurrection. As you read it, think of resurrection, not as something we are thankful we celebrated yesterday, but as something that transforms us as we live in light of it this week:
The very first Easter was not in a crowded worship space with singing and praising. On the very first Easter the disciples were locked in their house. It was dangerous for them to come out. They were afraid. They wanted to believe the good news they heard from the women, that Jesus had risen. But it seemed too good to be true. They were living a time of such despair and such fear. If they left their homes, their lives and the lives of their loved ones might be at risk. Could a miracle really have happened? Could life really have won out over death? Could this time of terror and fear really be coming to an end?
Alone in their homes they dared to believe that hope was possible, that the long night was over and morning had broken, that God’s love was the most powerful of all, even though it didn’t seem quite real yet. Eventually, they were able to leave their homes, when the fear and danger had subsided, they went around celebrating and spreading the good news that Jesus was risen and love was the most powerful force on the earth.
This year, we might get to experience a taste of what that first Easter was like, still in our homes daring to believe that hope is on the horizon. Then, after a while, when it is safe for all people, when it is the most loving choice, we will come out, gathering together, singing and shouting the good news that God brings life even out of death, that love always has the final say!
This year, we might get the closest taste we have had yet to what that first Easter was like.