Thursday, April 17, 2014

And So This is Easter

I LOVE Easter! I have such warm fuzzy memories of Easters past: getting up while it was still dark, my heart bursting with joyful anticipation and giddy thankfulness, heading out as a family to attend sunrise celebration services and fellowship breakfasts, singing at the top of my lungs those wonderful old hymns that were reserved for Easter only; coming home to the aroma of boiling ham and baking potatoes, hunting for our Easter baskets while Mom put the finishing touches on dinner; sitting around the table, talking and sharing and occasionally laughing until we cried; underneath it all the delightful consciousness that Jesus was risen indeed and that life was something very sweet as a direct result of that marvelous truth.

I hate to admit it, but my Easter experiences as an adult have never quite measured up. Whether this can be accounted for by simply being away from home and family or by the burdens and responsibilities that inevitably come from just being a grown-up, my take-away sense of Easter for the past 15 years or so is usually one of disappointment, of something lacking...There have been moments of joy, absolutely, startling jolts of pure ecstasy as the reality of the resurrection pierced my world-weary heart, but the deep and abiding  undercurrent of satisfaction and assurance and peace has often been missing.

In recent years, I've actually come to love Good Friday. As a child, I had a hard time seeing past the dark, somber songs and sermons we were encouraged (but not forced, if I recall correctly) to endure. But as an adult, deliberately taking the time to consider the weight of the cross, the depth of the sacrifice, the price that was paid for my salvation and freedom, all because of my own sinfulness, has held great value and beauty and meaning. I think we have a tendency to want to skip over the gory and gruesome of the cross to the glory and glitter of Easter morning, and I can understand that - we naturally prefer the beautiful to the ugly. But to pause and consider and sit awhile with the uneasiness, the heaviness - the more aware I become of my own sinfulness and my absolute inability to do anything to earn God's favour, the more astonishing and precious and treasured the fact of my salvation and freedom becomes!

I've really appreciated this season of Lent; I've had opportunities for reflection and contemplation and study; I'm approaching these next few days with an open heart. I want to allow for authentic thoughts and feelings to surface, to take the time and have the courage to allow for the range of emotions that may accompany this journey. And I believe that I'll find some more real joy in the process. Join me? May you know real joy this Easter season!

Let me leave you with the lyrics to two hymns that are some of the most passionate, heart-felt expressions of the Passion that I've ever encountered (I planned on posting only one, but couldn't choose between the two!). Please take some time to consider the extent of His sacrifice, the value of our redemption, and may it fill your heart with joy overflowing!

O sacred Head, now wounded,
with grief and shame weighed down,
now scornfully surrounded
with thorns, thine only crown:
how pale thou art with anguish,
with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish
which once was bright as morn!

What thou, my Lord, has suffered
was all for sinners' gain;
mine, mine was the transgression,
but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
'Tis I deserve thy place;
look on me with thy favor,
vouchsafe to me thy grace.

What language shall I borrow
to thank thee, dearest friend,
for this thy dying sorrow,
thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever;
and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
outlive my love for thee.

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

1 comment:

  1. Oh to have that joy, as I contemplate Easter and what it truly means. I would love to be able to express that joy in my life, but it seems very lacking.