Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Day After Easter

Okay, so technically it's the second day after Easter--but maybe it's even more important now, after we've had all of Monday since the clothes were brand new and the ham and eggs freshly cooked, to remember that celebrating the Resurrection was never meant to be a once-a-year event. We joke about "holiday Christians" who appear at church only on Easter morning and Christmas Eve, but it's not really funny that so many professed believers find worship and fellowship worth no more time than that.

No doubt some such people don't really believe at all; there are those who, though they state outright that it's ridiculous to believe anyone could rise from the dead, continue to attend church on Easter because their families always did it that way. Many other people believe in the Resurrection as a fact of history, yet treat it merely as interesting trivia. Probably the latter are more offensive to God than those who laugh at the whole idea; Scripture's most virulent scoldings are reserved for self-satisfied "religious" types. The NIV uses the word "lukewarm" only once--directed in Rev. 3:16 at church members who lived in blissful ignorance of their failings--and Jesus's reaction (paraphrased) is, "You make Me want to throw up!"

Who could call such a statement unreasonable, considering all He did to give us the best that Heaven could offer? And not just in paying the penalty of our sin for us. Certainly that was infinitely more than we had any right to expect, and required courage and compassion beyond our power to imagine; yet, if that were all He had meant to accomplish, He might have gone straight to Heaven from the Cross. His returning bodily from the grave offered final proof He had conquered death; but I believe its purpose went further than that. By showing Himself revived and revitalized, He was saying to His followers, "As I received new life after death, so I mean for you to receive new power to live in Me after your death to sin. You no longer have to be slaves to old habits, lost in apathy and hopelessness." We can experience eternal life now--not just after physical death--if we are willing to live in constant awareness of Christ's Resurrection. But we need to refresh that awareness far more often than annually.

If you're determined not to believe in the Resurrection, it's silly to go to church even on Easter. If you do believe, it's even more ridiculous to stay home the rest of the year.

The day after Easter,
The eggs all found,
The ham eaten up,
The flowers taken down,
The baskets now emptied,
Church services through,
Will you still remember
What Christ did for you?

The day after Easter,
When your new clothes
Have been broken in
Down to your shoes' toes,
And the fresh-cut lilies
Are starting to fade,
Will you still remember
The price our Lord paid?

No more than forgiveness
Or love or tear
Can just sit and wait
To act once a year--
No more than our sinning
Can stall from taint's grime--
Can true belief's worship
Be saved "till it's time."

The day after Easter,
And all our days,
Let us walk with God
In prayer and in praise:
The spirit of Easter,
In lives made brand new,
And our thanks to Jesus,
Must flow the year through!

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