This weekend I had the privilege of guest posting on the Willow Creek Association blog. If you’re a ministry leader you may want to check it out here, and take a look at their other resources!
As I write this it’s Easter morning. Gray, and ugly as most Easters are in Minneapolis. At least it’s not snowing like it has many years.
It’s a little hard to exuberantly declare “He is risen!” when the depressing surroundings aren’t in sync with the joy of the resurrection. Like Minneapolis didn’t get the memo to put on its Easter finery with bright spring tulips and sunshine and green grass. Instead we’re still in the death shroud of dirty snow.
We kiddingly say “Jesus may rise, but in Minneapolis He’s probably like the groundhog – tempted to go back in the grave for six more weeks and come out when the snow has finally melted.” I know. We probably shouldn’t joke about something as sacred as the resurrection. But it’s been a very long winter, so give us a little grace please.
Anyway, John and I went to the watchnight service last night at at 11:00. In darkness we heard again the overarching story of creation, separation through sin, and redemption.
Kind of like when your mom retells stories about when you were a little girl or boy… It was a reminder of where we’ve come from and our separation from God and His great love that had a plan to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.
But when we got home and went to bed, I couldn’t get to sleep. And here’s what I kept thinking…”Next year I’m going to do Easter better.”
Every year Lent kind of creeps up on me and all of a sudden I’m frantically thinking, “Oh! It’s Lent! I should probably fast, or read something meaningful. Or give up coffee.” And then I usually fret about it and think about how impure my motives are.
This year I kept meaning to give up something, but I never did. And I committed to four different Lenten reading plans and felt overwhelmed and confused as I tried to keep up and some of them overlapped and I kept thinking “Didn’t I just read this and what is God trying to say to me?”
And so, as Easter Sunday moved towards dawn I was awake and resolving to “do Easter better”.
What exactly would that look like?
Maybe I’d be more contemplative. And “holy”! I’d fast from noise, and sugar, and gossip and T.V. And I’d actually be able to check off all the little boxes in my Lenten reading plans. Check, check, check! I’d do a LOT of secret acts of service and sacrifice.
That’s a good thing…leaning into Jesus and identifying with Him through spiritual disciplines, and maybe I will do Easter differently next year, but as I tossed and turned, I heard,
“Your righteousness is as filthy rags.”
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is a free gift that no one can boast.”
“It is finished.”
It’s not a bad thing to think of ways to enter into Easter, but “doing” it better? It’s already been done.
Like Minneapolis, I need to take off my death shroud of “not good enough/do better” and put on my new party clothes today and dance for the resurrection.