Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Presents

Every year, my wife and I celebrate Easter with our kids in a typical, American fashion: baskets, eggs, candy, etc. We also throw in an inexpensive gift. I’d like to say there’s a deep, spiritual reason behind all this, but the truth is: we just love to celebrate and see the joy on our kids’ faces.

But maybe this gift-giving tradition in our family points to something we all need a little more: a sense of wonder and joy at Easter. I’m not trying to say that everyone should start exchanging gifts at Easter (Christmas is more than enough commercialization for me). No, I think we need to be more mindful of the reality of His Presence as our great Present.

I was reading the Easter story from John’s Gospel before writing this blog, and I was struck by the emotion of Jesus’ first interaction with others after His resurrection:
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
John 20:15-16 NIV
Despairing and confused, Mary understands that Jesus’ body is missing, and the only context she can grasp given everything she’s learned about life and death is that someone must have stolen His body. Why would anyone do that? Certainly the past couple of days have been bad enough, but to now have His body stolen? Poor Mary…  until she hears Him say her name! What joyful surprise as she recognizes the Master’s voice! What a great Easter present!

I’ve asked the question “Why Easter?” and acknowledged a certain absurdity to the celebration. But the truth is that none of us fully appreciate the great gift we received on that Resurrection Sunday. 
Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:29
“Hallelujah! The Lord is Risen! … Christ is risen indeed, hallelujah!”

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