A Routine Resurrection?

Dear Friends,
 
The cartoon on the right shows a couple leaving church on Easter Sunday and shaking hands with the pastor. The man says to the pastor, “You’re in a rut, Reverend. Every time I come here, you preach about the Resurrection.”
 
We chuckle at that, but sometimes even those who faithfully come to church more regularly than on Easter have a similar attitude. We want to have a devoted attitude, but instead we fall into, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. I know all that. Same story. Different year.” It’s tempting to turn the most fantastic event of human history into something routine. We cannot let this happen.
 
Each year, I find I need to slow down and reflect on the events of Holy Week so that I can absorb its wonder. Sometimes just walking through those familiar events stirs my heart to remember all that Christ did for me. Holy Week begins this coming Palm Sunday, which celebrates Christ riding into Jerusalem in great triumph. On this day, all of those following Christ must have been elated. The way the crowd responded to Jesus’ entrance that day was the response they would give to royalty. It truly was cause for celebration. But as we will experience on Sunday as we worship, we will move from this triumphal entrance towards the tragic crucifixion. We will experience again how the crowds quickly changed their shouts of “Hosanna! Lord save us!” to “Crucify Him! He is no king of ours!” 
 
On Maundy Thursday (4/18) you are also invited to worship with us as we celebrate what has come to be known as our Lord’s Last Supper. It was the last meal Jesus would eat before his death on the cross. In an incredible display of love, Jesus knelt down and washed the feet of his friends, giving them an example of the kind of behavior he expected of them. It’s also astonishing to think that when Jesus knew what he would suffer in a few short hours, he wanted to comfort and serve his friends, rather than demand that he be comforted and served. Perhaps most amazing is that he washed the feet of the one (Judas) he knew would betray him. And, of course, Jesus instituted the amazing practice of Communion, saying the bread was his body given for them, asking them to remember him when they took it. Then taking the cup, he declared it to be the new covenant in his blood, poured out for them. Following that holy meal, later that night, Jesus was arrested and soon after, crucified.

Mel Gibson films his own hand nailing Jesus to the cross in “The Passion of the Christ.”

 
Martin Luther once said that we all carry the nails that crucified Christ around in our pockets. Mel Gibson also portrayed this belief in his movie, The Passion of the Christ. In the film, it is his hand that is filmed nailing Jesus to the cross.
 
Until we understand and acknowledge our role in Jesus’ death, we will not understand the extent of our sinful nature or the expanse of Christ’s forgiveness. We deserve to be the ones punished for our sins. Instead, Jesus volunteered to take the punishment in our place. This is the best news of all! Death has lost its sting and has been swallowed up in victory.
 
We should bring out the band, dance in the streets, and shout from the rooftops this good news. The resurrection is anything but routine!
 
Joseph Bayly in his poem, “Psalms of My Life,” which appeared in Christianity Today magazine, shares this excellent perspective on Easter:
 
“Let’s celebrate Easter with the rite of laughter.
Christ died and rose and lives.
Laugh like a woman who holds her first baby.
Our enemy death will soon be destroyed.
Laugh like a man who finds he doesn’t have cancer, or he does but now there’s a cure.
Christ opened wide the door to heaven.
Laugh like children at Disneyland’s gates.
This world is owned by God, and he’ll return to rule.
Laugh like a man who walks away uninjured from a wreck in which his car was totaled.
Laugh as if all the people in the whole world were invited to a picnic and then invite them.”
 
I pray the resurrection never becomes routine for any of us.
 
As you approach this coming Holy and Easter week, I invite you to ponder the story as if you’ve never heard it before. Or, ponder it as if you’ve heard it 5,000 times—and it’s just beginning to sink in.
 
Holy Week and Easter Blessings to you all!
 
Pr. Dale