As you read this, there are still almost 3 weeks left in Lent. So please, don’t let me throw off your times of “reflection”. For the next couple of weeks, keep on asking yourself about your own journey as a disciple of Jesus, and keep asking God to help you grow in love and service.
But since Easter is April 21st, I can’t really write about Easter in the May newsletter. So, you can set this aside for a couple of weeks, or you can put Lent on hold, and go back to it when you finish reading!
No other event in the Christian church calendar causes us to probe the meaning of life more than Easter Day. Our probe is not so much about a philosophy of life or the question, "Why are we alive?" The probe centers on the trinity of life, death, and resurrection. Is “life” only that which happens between birth and death, or is there really more?
When my dad was nearing the end of his life back in the fall of 2012, I sat by the side of his bed. He had lived 90 good years and one difficult one at the end. My dad was active and engaged up until the last 12 months of his life. He did word jumbles, loved playing cards and dominoes (even when he lost – he was competitive, but loved the social aspect of the games). He played golf a couple times a week and loved going out for lunch or dinner with friends and family. When his heart began to really give out at 90, he didn’t like it one bit--nor did any of us kids and our spouses, to be honest. On a doctor’s visit just before he turned 91, he told my sister and his doctor, he was done. He didn’t want to do any more doctor’s visits, no more medications. He said he was tired of being told his numbers were good, he looked good, when he felt so lousy. Over the next 6 weeks his heart weakened, hospice came in, and all us kids visited and talked with him. As we surrounded him in his active dying, I reflected on his active life, on all he had taught me. I thought about the years we spent together in business. I didn’t want my dad to go. But one of my last nights with him, when I said good night and said, “I’ll see you in the morning, dad,” he said to me, “I hope you don’t mind if I say I hope you don’t.”
I told him, “I don’t mind. And it’s okay to go. We’ll see each other again someday.” He said, “Yes we will.”
In the years since, whenever I’ve thought about that exchange with my dad, I’ve often considered the
certainty we both had that we would see each other again. None of us know for sure what lies on the other side of death. Yet both my dad and I knew, really knew in our hearts, that we WOULD see each other again.
Why were we so sure? Well, I believe we were confident because of the promise of Easter. On that day we call Good Friday, even Jesus’ closest followers were disheartened when he was crucified and laid in the tomb. Jesus was dead. And dead is dead. They would never see him again. They fled, they hid, they lost hope. Then came Easter morning. Christ was raised to new life. And in the resurrection, we find the promise of new life at the end of this earthly life.
Let me just say that I truly believe that Christ came to show us how to live and have life in abundance in this world. But in the resurrection, I find the promise that when that life draws to a close, death is not the end, but rather a time of transition to something new. There is new life, eternal life in Christ. That is the promise of Easter!
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about my dad, that I don’t hear one of his pearls of wisdom coming out of my mouth, that I don’t say thanks Dad, for teaching me that skill, or for showing me with your actions, the importance of being loving and kind, of offering forgiveness, of living with honesty and integrity. And while my dad’s life on earth ended 6-1/2 years ago, he lives on, in Christ, and in me. And I know,
someday, I will see him again, face to face.
The women who tore from the tomb with the news, "He is risen," found life where death had been laid. And still today, Easter is God’s way of making that promise to all of us.
Christ is Risen! Alleluia!
I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. – Jesus, in John 14:18-20