The Essence of Easter

No doubt about it, a present day death and resurrection would make the six o’clock news, and by morning there would be religiously correct points of view every few hours presented by a wide range of organized believers, non-believers or dis-believers.

As in the post-Jesus days, Christians would be claiming that they have discovered a different way of life that is better than that offered by the non-Christian world.  Then the fun would begin with disagreements all around about what the good news or better way of life means. Electronic media would flash the news, cyber-net users would interpret it, commentators would probe meanings and affirm or discredit the event. The stone rolled away from the tomb would be chipped into bits much like the Berlin Wall, and sacred relics might even be hawked and bought by a well-intentioned populace. If you aren’t buying a chip from the tomb, you need to set about discovering what Easter really means.  You might think it is more than death and resurrection, but what is more?  What do all the lilies and banners and singing and joyous proclamations mean?

                                   Easter in One Gulp?

Can a person take in the real meaning of Easter in one gulp? The answer to this question makes a good case for Lent, maybe a long, long lent.. For me, finding the real essence of Easter has been a life-long discovery. And just when I think I’ve found a new and the ultimate essence (taste, feel, smell and total  understanding) of Easter, an event or sermon or new insight washes through my head, and I say out loud, “So! That’s what it means!” or “And it means THAT, too?” “No kidding?  It means that, too?”

I once wrote teacher and student study books for junior highs trying to help students discover for themselves what the Easter event means. What I discovered was that the big gulp of Easter can only be appreciated if a person knows the Jesus story. If the story only consists of a death and resurrection, it has smaller meaning. One needs to know who Jesus was, about his lifestyle, his friends, who he spoke to and what he said to them, and how his living changed the way others came to live. Jesus was and is a man of limitless power. A man of ultimate love and real personal power.

Jesus, a man of power!
Born in an unknown stable,
   he lived modestly in a small country.
His life studied by scholars,
   his teachings tried in the arena of life.
His quiet power so important
   that history dates from his birth.
His ideas so explosive
   that he changes lives and alters the world for good.
Will you believe in this ageless power?

Jesus, a man of power.  
His words lift drunks from gutters.
His healing helps teenagers deal with their personal wounds.
His understanding keeps kids from running away-
   even from themselves.
His capacity for giving himself away inspires youth to be          unnaturally unselfish.
His picture of God enables Christians to live together
   without killing each other.
His patient example gives a model for our attending to persons.
Will you tap this quiet power?

Jesus, a man of power.
His stories leave us ponder-bound even today.
His healings make us expect spiritual and physical nursing.
His suffering shouts, "REMEMBER ME!"
          and his dying screams, "I LIVE!'
His living propels us into action.
Will you tap this living power?

                                      Tap the Power

We tap his power when we get to know him through every avenue available to us. It may be through study and listening and talking, re-forming ideas, opening doors and walking in with our minds, or reading the Bible. For me, it is often through taking on a task so impossibly above my talents and skills that I find myself face down on the earth asking ignorant questions and receiving surprising answers from many places.
We tap the power through meditation–a laying by of our selfish desires as we think with God, as we think about events in our lives and how we can hold them up to the light of God through knowing Jesus.
We tap this power when we discover what kind of power we are looking for. Are we looking for help and nurture, or expecting instant, magical power? Actually, I’d prefer magic rather than having to wait in patience. I’d also prefer instant results rather than having to rewrite manuscripts or rewrite my life. Bottom line, though. I’d really prefer the right relationship with God and nurture where I find the “real stuff.”
We tap this quiet, steady power of Jesus when we give and give again and discover that we can never give the power away.
We tap the power of Jesus as we pray words of committmentand seek to live them.  The beginning of Lent, emotionally charged and stretching way ahead of us, often fills me with the urge to commit something positive or even sacrifice or give up a physical thing.
We tap this power when we try and try again, knowing full well that we are not perfect and will fail again, but we keep saying, “Hosanna,” and keep waving the palm branches.                                                   Keep Wavin’ Those Branches
In the Christian church where we keep making pronouncements, directions, rules, maybe we should proclaim a new period of celebration called the “Wavin’ Time.”  Wavin Time would be when we use dramatic imagery to place ourselves at the entrance to Jerusalem, a time of praise and adulation of Jesus and the celebration of his power. THE CELEBRATION HAPPENED TO JESUS.  The book of Matthew records it:
         A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road and
others cut branches from the trees and spread them on
the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that
followed were shouting,
Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest heaven. (8-10)

If we shout Hosannas what are we shouting?  I’d say, “Great going, guy,”  or,  “I’m on your side if we are choosing sides,”  or even “I believe what you have been teaching.”

Actually, I believe it means “Save now!” It was and can be today a cry  for deliverance and help in any trouble. It can mean, “Hail” or “I salute you,” but the original cry meant, “Deliver us. We believe you can do it.”

In Jesus’ day, people waved branches and shouted having meanings all their own.  It goes for us today – we need to find our own meanings while seeking to tap his power. Meanings change as we change.  What is your meaning this year?  Try writing down the meaning. Surprisingly, it is not easy.  A one gulp Easter essence leads to more and more adventure in understanding the power of the man we celebrate as risen.  He is risen indeed.