Friday, January 27, 2012

Easter Spirit

I love the writing of Mary Southerland, "The Stress-Buster and Women's Ministry Motivator," for her anecdotes, humor, and Scriptural insight that regularly seem to have my own particular struggles in mind. Three days ago, she noted in a blog post, "January is often referred to as the 'blue' month. The blahs attack and a strange sense of discontentment fills our hearts and minds. A local radio host recently explained that since the holidays are over, there is a void or a vacuum left that causes those blues.... Something is definitely missing but I don’t think it has as much to do with the Christmas holidays as with the way we live the rest of the year. Christmas is not a season.... Christmas is a way of life. Every day should find us still and quiet before the manger as we celebrate the birth, life, death and resurrection of our coming Lord and King, Jesus Christ."

With the beginning of Lent less than a month away, it's good to note that what's true for Christmas should be all the more true for Easter. Many people, even non-Christians, have urged "keeping the Christmas spirit all year round," but surprisingly few ever raise the concept of an "Easter spirit" outside of Holy Week. (One notable exception is the song "Every Morning Is Easter Morning," published 1967 in The Avery and Marsh Songbook.) And yet, without Easter, Christmas would have little to distinguish it as a celebration from the birthday of Martin Luther King or George Washington. Many great people have made sufficient impression on the world that their birthdays--or death days--are officially commemorated; but only One has returned from the dead with the authority to offer eternal life to anyone who accepts it.

It's interesting that in the early centuries of Christianity, the birth of Jesus received scant attention--two of the Gospels don't even mention it, and Epistle references are few and terse--while the Crucifixion and Resurrection were emphasized at every opportunity. Easter was and is what makes Christianity unique and wonderful as a religion: who else recognizes a God Who is powerful enough to conquer even death, holy enough to be completely free of selfishness and pride, and generous enough to suffer for the very people who treat Him with contempt and offer them all anyone could ever dream of without asking them to contribute a thing to the payment?

So what does an Easter spirit look like? Reflective of this God in humility and generosity. Immensely grateful for what He has done. Confident that we can do nothing on our own and everything through Him. The epitome of Paul's command in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 

Surely it is also His will that we celebrate Easter all year.

The Power that raised Christ from the dead
Is the Holy Spirit in you:
Do not fear your weakness, but trust His strength
To direct each thing you do.

The Power that lit that Easter morn
Is the Light that glows in your heart:
Do not fear the darkness inside your soul,
For the Lord never will depart.

The Spirit Who brought new hope to life
Is the Source of all hope to be:
Trust with courage and patience His work in you,
Though you may not have eyes to see.

That first Easter Day of rebirth and joy
Still can live in your soul today:
Let it lead you on to eternal realms,
And God's grace ever light your way.

No comments: