During the fourteen days prior to Easter, I have been reflecting with you on the Stations of the Cross, to help us prepare for a deeper experience of the reality of Jesus’s death, and therefore a greater celebration of his resurrection. Today, on Easter Sunday, I want to add an Easter postscript to this series of devotions.
If we think beyond the Easter celebrations to the reality being celebrated, Easter may turn out to be more relevant to work than we first think.
This is Easter Sunday, the day when most Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (Eastern Orthodox believers celebrate Easter a week later than Westerners.) Today, we focus our celebration on the fact that Jesus shattered the bonds of death as God raised him to new life. The resurrection demonstrates that God’s plan for salvation through the cross actually worked.
Today is Holy Saturday, the day between the cross and the resurrection of Christ. It’s a day of reflection and waiting. It’s a time to consider further the reality of the cross so as to prepare for the celebration of the resurrection.
I will never forget a humorous Holy Saturday conversation that happened between my children when they were young.
Today is Good Friday, the day of the year when Christians throughout the world remember the death of Jesus in a special way. In our devotions and private prayers, in our gatherings for worship and communion, and in our sacrificial service to others, we reflect upon what happened to Christ almost 2,000 years ago and what it means for us today. Rightly, we often focus on the difference Christ’s death makes for us personally. Because he died on the cross, we can be forgiven and reconciled to God. Because Jesus died, we can experience life as God meant it to be experienced, both in this age (partially) and in the age to come (completely).
I would like to reflect with you on another way in which the death of Jesus transforms our lives, not so much in what we receive as in what we give.
Today is Maundy Thursday according to many strands of Christian tradition. Growing up in a non-liturgical Christian culture, I thought people were calling this day “Monday Thursday,” the silliness of which confirmed my bias against liturgical versions of Christianity. Later, I learned that folks weren’t saying “Monday Thursday” but rather “Maundy Thursday.” Of course, this didn’t help much because I didn’t know the word “Maundy.” Finally, in my twenties, I took a course on church order at Fuller Seminary, where I finally learned the meaning of “Maundy.”
When I was a boy, nobody told me today was Spy Wednesday. If they had, I might have been more interested in what happened to Jesus on the Wednesday before his death. After all, what young boy isn’t fascinated by spies? But, in my Christian upbringing, the Wednesday before Easter was simply known as Wednesday. In some traditions it’s called Holy Wednesday, but I doubt that would have engaged my juvenile imagination. No, if they wanted my attention, they should have told me it was Spy Wednesday.