This Easter I have been reflecting on celebrations from years past. It's amazing what you recall when we consider what is normal disappears! For instance, I have been remembering my mom always making sure I had new clothes as a child for Easter. I'm sure the entire family followed suit, but I remember a new Easter dress, patent leather shoes, a purse, gloves and a bonnet! It was a wonderful Sunday celebration and most of the time, in the south, it was sunny and warm so we didn't need a coat, but often mom would purchase me, what was then called a 'duster' to go over my dress in case it was a cool day.
Mom wore a corsage with her new dress and dad and my brother wore suits with ties. Yes, sir, it was quite the special event...going to church on Easter Sunday!
This year will be quite different. There will be no big family gatherings, no big Easter egg hunts, no going to the Washington County fairgrounds to see the bunnies and chicks, no one gathered around our tables to celebrate this pivotal event in the Christian's heart and mind.
Although we are not going to experience, in all my years on this earth, gathering with our brothers and sisters in Christ to celebrate the empty tomb of Jesus, it doesn't negate the fact that HE IS RISEN! I pray you will still feel the specialness of this day and will honor our Lord with prayer, praise and thankfulness that we have a home in glory. Our eternal home will not encounter viruses, sending hugs and kisses from a distance, being alone, feeling depressed or deserted, and never experiencing fear again.
This Easter will be different, but we pray many hearts will turn, or return to the Savior; lives uplifted, refreshed and rebooted because we were made to slow down. May God render us a sweetness this Sunday that perhaps we have never experienced before.
I am reprinting a beautiful story shared through our church newsletter. May your heart be uplifted by these words.
Happy Easter, my friends!
A Holy Saturday Meditation
The stars were just beginning to fade as I made my way back to Golgotha. A warm orange glow lay at the horizon as the sun just began its early morning ascent. The same glow painted the few clouds that drifted lazily across the heavens.
The cross was but a shadow against the sky as I made my way up the hill for the second time in as many days. As I approached the cross, the centermost of the three that still stood on the hill, I was overcome by the memory of yesterday’s events. I dropped to my knees, tears pooling in my eyes.
I felt a sharp pain in my right knee, and I brushed my hand under it to remove what I thought was a pebble. I quickly raised my hand when I felt a pinch and sting in my finger.
A thorn from the makeshift crown the Romans had fashioned for the King of the Jews. It was not the first time I would feel its sharp burn.
I was pressed into service yesterday to carry the patibulum of a man sentenced to crucifixion on this very hill. Being from Cyrene, my complexion and dress differentiated me from the rest who had come to see the prisoners led to their deaths, and it may have been for those very reasons that the centurion singled me out. The man was so badly beaten, and since he had fallen more than once, they were likely afraid that me might die on the way. They were determined that the man would survive so that they could put him to death on their own terms.
So the centurion tore me from my place in the crowd and told me to take the patibulum from the man. After the centurion had untied it from the prisoner’s arms, he helped me shift it onto my own back. That is when my arm brushed the crown of thorns.
I plucked the thorn from my finger and sucked at the pinpoint of blood that formed in its place. I looked up at the cross, its rough-hewn texture now visible in the brightening sky. Dark smears of dried blood marred the surface. Nails still lay on the ground where they fell when pried from the prisoner’s lifeless wrists and feet. Another dark stain corrupted the ground where he had been lowered. I still remember how his mother’s tears mingled with the driving rain as he laid in her trembling arms. I remember the blood being washed from his body there.
The sun rose higher still, and it seemed to be mocking me. Yesterday as I stood on this hill and watched the man die, the earth shook, the sky rumbled, lightning streaked to the ground from the heavens. The whole earth seemed to be in turmoil. I had never seen anything like it before. But today was beginning like yesterday never happened, and it angered me. How could the anger and rage cease so suddenly; how dare the sun rise and the sky turn blue again? But then the sunglow touched my face, and even in the cold morning air, warmth enveloped and embraced me.
I rolled my shoulders, suddenly aware that the pain and burn that I still felt this morning from the heavy weight I bore yesterday was gone. In fact, they felt lighter than they ever did. I felt for the bruises that the patibulum had left behind on my upper arms. No tenderness. No pain. I stripped off my outer garment and rolled up my sleeves. No discoloration. No trace of the yellow-green bruises that had been there just this morning. I checked my forearm—the cuts that had drawn blood from the thorns yesterday were gone—no scars; not even a thin red line as evidence of their existence.
Yesterday, I had been meant to ease this man’s burden, but if what I had heard was true, he had lifted the burdens and healed the hurts of many while he walked the earth. And now I knew, without a doubt, that he had lifted mine. When I made my way to the cross this morning, I was a hurting, bruised, and scarred man. When I knelt at the cross, I was healed.
If only there was a way that I could thank him for what he did for me.