Once every year, billions of people around the world pause to remember the mystery of Easter. Most people love Easter: bunnies, chocolate, eggs, bonnets, lilies, flower crosses, and joyful singing. In the air, you can sense victory and resurrection and new life. No wonder that churches have many visitors on Easter Sunday.
I have always enjoyed Easter, especially for the chocolate. Just like Christmas, Easter has its food connection and its spiritual connection. Most people love to eat. Easter family gatherings invariably involve lots of delicious food, especially those wonderful hot cross buns.
Good Friday is a traditional fast day where many choose not to eat in order to remember Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. Easter Sunday is a traditional feast day where families celebrate with delicious feasts. Without Good Friday, Easter Sunday makes no sense. Without Easter Sunday, Good Friday is just a terrible tragedy. Good Friday shows that God can turn everything that is against us to our advantage. God transformed Good Friday (the most evil day in history) into Easter Sunday (the most beautiful day in history).
Many of us steer clear of Good Friday because it reminds us of death, of pain, and of our own personal mortality. Sometimes we may question: what on earth is Good about Good Friday? What’s so good about someone going through the worst suffering and most excruciating death ever imagined? Good Friday seems too morbid, too deadly, too bloody.
Modern medical science is wonderful in the way that it can prolong life that would often otherwise be over. But medicine can only postpone the inevitable facing all of us. We are mortals here on earth. In my mid-teen period, I lost sight of the power of Easter, and concluded that there was no life after death. Death was final, and that was the end of it. Nothing was waiting for me but the grave. What was it all about, I wondered? Was life really worth the effort? I began to fear the power of death and the meaninglessness and emptiness of life. I even secretly wondered if life itself was worth living.
In the midst of my teenage self-doubt, I still loved Easter, but I didn’t get it. The flowers, the food, the fun and even Easter worship were enjoyable, but somehow I missed the message. It is funny how you can celebrate something that you grow up with, and yet the real meaning can be missed. When the penny finally dropped, when the light came on, it was like waking up from the dead. I finally understood that Jesus solved the unsolvable death problem, and that by faith in him, the future is bright and unstoppable.
My prayer for those of you who love the Easter season is that you may realize that at the end of the day, love is stronger than death, and love has the final word.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-an article published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
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