1: Incredible, not impossible:
Those who visit
never miss Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. They have many oddities there. Would you believe that they actually have a pin with the Lord’s Prayer carved on the head of that pin? It is incredible, not impossible, just incredible. They have a piece of hair with the name “Ripley” written on it. The Guinness Book of World Records mentions a little four-year old boy in Seattle, Washington who spoke four languages: Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and English. There are many things that seem to be impossible but they are only incredible. Did you know that Mrs. Vasalay in Korea gave birth to 69 children? That’s incredible! Did you know that there was a healthy baby born in Russia that weighed 24 pounds? That is painfully incredible! Did you know that there was man who grew a moustache that was a 102 inches long? That is incredible! One gymnast from the Cirque De Sole climbed up a rope sideways with his arms and his body perfectly perpendicular 90 degrees to that rope. There was a woman juggler with hands so fast you couldn’t even see the speed of the nine balls or knives. There are many things in life that are absolutely and wonderfully incredible, but they are not impossible. It was Jesus who said: “With God, all things are possible!” The women came to the tomb and noticed that the big stone had been rolled away. They wondered what had happened. They looked inside, and incredibly, a young man was sitting there and he was dressed in white. He said to them, “Jesus is not here. He has been raised from the dead by the Power of God.” “Incredible, absolutely incredible!” they thought. Today we celebrate this incredible fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead. Turkey
: El Dorado
The Spanish conquistadors were exotic explorers of the 1500s. These Spanish sailors were brave, daring men of adventure, searching for gold and silver, jasper and emeralds, braving the insecurities of their little bobbing boats in the seismic swells of ocean waves, not knowing what was out there before them in the uncharted seas of a strange new world. These Spanish conquistadors were adventurous people like Hernando
, Francisco Coronado, and Ponce de Leon. It was in 1513 that Ponce de Leon began his search for the legendary de Soto , a land where gold nuggets were as plentiful as the pebbles found on ocean beaches. Near that legendary El Dorado was the one thing that everybody was looking for. It was more valuable than gold and silver, more valuable than precious jewels. All of his life, Ponce de Leon and everybody else had wanted to find it. He was looking for the legendary “fountain of youth.” He had sailed half way across the world, wanting to taste the waters from that fountain of immortality. He wanted to drink from those waters and be eternally young, eternally vibrant, and eternally energetic. He wanted to drink from those waters of eternal youth and never grow old and die. He searched and searched and, like every person who wanted to find the legendary El Dorado on this side of the grave, he did not find it. But the Risen Jesus is our guarantee that we will have a real fountain of youth when we begin our life after death with him sharing in his heavenly glory. El Dorado
3: The phoenix bird:
The late Catholic Archbishop of
, John Whealon, who had undergone cancer surgery resulting in a permanent colostomy, wrote these very personal words in one of his last Easter messages: "I am now a member of an association of people who have been wounded by cancer. That association has as its symbol the phoenix bird of Egyptian mythology. When the bird felt its death was near, every 500 to 1,461 years, it would fly off to Hartford , build a nest of aromatic wood and set itself on fire. When the bird was consumed by the flames, a new phoenix sprang forth from the ashes. Thus the phoenix bird symbolizes immortality, resurrection, and life after death. It was one of the earliest symbols of the risen Christ. In the same way, any person who has survived a struggle with cancer is considered phoenix-like, having risen from the ashes of disease and been given a new lease on life. Suddenly life becomes more precious to that person. Each hour is lived more fully. Each friend seems much more real. The sky seems more blue, the sunshine more beautiful, and the colors more vivid. Even dull and ordinary things are causes for gratitude to God.” Archbishop John Whealon could have lived in a gloomy tomb of self-pity, hopeless defeat, and chronic sadness, but his faith in the resurrected Lord opened his eyes to new visions of life. Phoenicia
4 . See what happens:
One lady wrote in to a question and answer forum. "Dear Sirs, Our preacher said on Easter, that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think? Sincerely, Bewildered.
Dear Bewildered, Beat your preacher with a cat-of-nine-tails, nail him to a cross; hang him in the sun for 6 hours; run a spear through his side...put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours and see what happens." Sincerely, Charles.
5 . Rented for a week end: Joseph of Arimathea was a very wealthy Pharisee, a member of the council, and a secret follower of Jesus. It was Joseph who went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion. And it was Joseph who supplied the tomb for Jesus’ burial. I wonder if someone pulled him aside and said, "Joseph that was such beautiful, costly, hand-hewn tomb. Why on earth did you give it to someone to be buried in?" "Why not?" Joseph might have answered. “He only needed it for the weekend."
****6. Happy Easter, Church. Christ Is Risen. He Is Risen Indeed.
The resurrection of Jesus is God's final word spoken in the face of sin, suffering, evil and death. Thanks Be to God.
Easter egg hunts have been in the news all week, both because of the controversy in the White House over the invitations that went out warning that the one on the White House lawn might need to be cancelled, as well as the refusal of some school districts to refer to "Easter eggs," only "Spring eggs."
Come on. Easter egg hunts? They are part of our most beloved childhood memories, even though they have very little to do with the real Easter. Or do they?
Coloring eggs; that sweet smell of vinegar; getting those same six colors all over fingers, clothes, and countertops year after year. Then getting up early enough to compete against brothers and sisters to find the most baskets of eggs and goodies.
As parents we have different memories of the same event. Easter egg hunts mean bleaching out those Easter egg-colored clothes and counter tops; getting up even earlier than the kids; making lots of egg salad sandwiches (with strange colors staining the bread); and finding Easter grass still lurking in corners of the house on the Fourth of July.
But while some of the traditions behind Easter egg hunts have remained the same, there has been one big change that has transformed large community-wide egg hunts, Sunday school class quests, and our own living room look-fors.
Let's get real: we might still color and decorate real eggs. But how many of those actual hard-boiled eggs get taken out of the fridge and hidden in nooks and crannies anymore? Real eggs have been replaced with plastic eggs. The realities of lurking bacteria and potential lawsuits have banished actual eggs from almost every "egg hunt." Instead, plastic eggs filled with store-bought candies have, for the sake of sanity and sanitation, replaced the hand-colored hard-boiled real egg.
In other words rather than searching for an egg, a symbol of new life, we have a petroleum based plastic shell filled with candies made of artificial colors and sweetness. Not a very life-affirming symbol. Not a very Easter-y symbol...
______________________________7. More Hope than We Can Handle
Earlier this week, an old couple received a phone call from their son who lives far away. The son said he was sorry, but he wouldn't be able to come for a visit over the holidays after all. "The grandkids say hello." They assured him that they understood, but when they hung up the phone they didn't dare look at each other.
Earlier this week, a woman was called into her supervisor's office to hear that times are hard for the company and they had to let her go. "So sorry." She cleaned out her desk, packed away her hopes for getting ahead, and wondered what she would tell her kids.
Earlier this week, someone received terrible news from a physician. Someone else heard the words, "I don't love you any more." Earlier this week, someone's hope was crucified. And the darkness is overwhelming.
No one is ever ready to encounter Easter until he or she has spent time in the dark place where hope cannot be seen. Easter is the last thing we are expecting. And that is why it terrifies us. This day is not about bunnies, springtime and girls in cute new dresses. It's about more hope than we can handle.
Craig Barnes, Savior at Large
______________________________8. Yes, There Is Hope
In the early part of World War II, a Navy submarine was stuck on the bottom of the harbor in New York City. It seemed that all was lost. There was no electricity and the oxygen was quickly running out. In one last attempt to rescue the sailors from the steel coffin, the U.S. Navy sent a ship equipped with Navy divers to the spot on the surface, directly above the wounded submarine. A Navy diver went over the side of the ship to the dangerous depths in one last rescue attempt. The trapped sailors heard the metal boots of the diver land on the exterior surface, and they moved to where they thought the rescuer would be. In the darkness they tapped in Morse code, "Is there any hope?" The diver on the outside, recognizing the message, signaled by tapping on the exterior of the sub, "Yes, there is hope."
This is the picture of our dilemma as we worship this glad Easter Day. Humankind is trapped in a dreadful situation. All around we are running low on hope, and we look for a word from beyond offering it to us. This world in which we live is plagued with war and famine, mounting debt and continual destruction. The more we try to rescue ourselves the more we seem to fall behind. We wonder: Is there any hope?
Bill Self, Is There Any Hope?
_________________________________9. It Opens on the Dawn
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb while it was still dark. But the darkness was soon overcome with light. Maybe that's the message you need to hear this day. Perhaps for whatever reason you are in darkness right now. Family concerns. Problems at work. Anxiety about your health and your future. The loss of someone you love. Easter promises us more than the stars in our darkness. Easter promises us that in the midst of our deepest darkness the Son rises to overwhelm the darkness forever.
Victor Hugo once put it like this, "For half a century I have been writing my thoughts in prose and verse and history and philosophy . . . But I feel I have not said the thousandth part of what is in me. When I go down to the grave I can say, I have finished my day's work,' but I cannot say, I have finished my life.' My day's work will begin again the next morning. The tomb is not a blind alley; it is a thoroughfare. It closes on the twilight; it opens on the dawn." Mary Magdalene came to the tomb while it was still dark "but the darkness did not remain. The dawn broke. God's Son had risen.
_______________________10. The Easter Choice
When faced with new realities, you have at least three options for how to respond (and it is nearly certain that you will opt for one of these three possibilities). First, you can stay bewildered. You can let this event knock you flat on your back and then stay there. Second, you can engage in world-class denial. You can look at the facts and ignore them. Or third, you can, slowly perhaps, assimilate this new information. You may get knocked as flat on your back as the next person by this new realization, but eventually you pick yourself up. You embrace this new truth and then go through the long, sometimes painful, process of re-assessing life in the light of this new evidence.
This is the Easter choice. When faced with the incredible proclamation that Jesus rose again from the dead, you can be agnostic and cynical by saying that you don't know what to make of this but then neither are you going to try. Who cares anyway? Or you can deny it. The whole thing is fiction, fantasy, a pious wish but something that never really happened. Or you can move past the shock toward acceptance. But let me caution you: if you are going to accept the truth of the bodily resurrection, you need to let it change you totally.
That's the Easter choice. The problem for most of us is that we are not surprised enough by Easter to realize we face a choice. Easter is a part of the background scenery of our lives. We've never been afraid of Easter, never been bewildered by it. Believing that Jesus rose again from the dead becomes a little like believing the earth is round and that it orbits the sun. Once upon a time people didn't know that. They thought the earth was flat and that the sun orbited the earth. It caused quite a stir when this view had to be revised. But that was a long time ago and now we accept that picture of our solar system without much thought. Sure the world is round and we orbit the sun, but what does that have to do with anything? It doesn't change what I have to do at work tomorrow, does it?
Is that what Easter becomes for us? We believe it happened but then, we've always believed that. Even Easter has somehow become part of the "routines" of this world. So why would it have much of an effect on what we do tomorrow? Easter is no longer shocking for us--it surely does not make us re-evaluate everything else we think we know. And anyway, we're not sure we want to have everything in our lives changed.
Of course, if we can believe in the resurrection at all, it is a gift of faith granted to us by the prior gift of grace. But if we have received that grace and accept the truth that gets proclaimed from every Christian pulpit in the world each Easter Sunday morning, then we have to know that this truth changes everything. This is not some fact we can ponder just once every twelve months. This changes everything.... and on EVERY day.
Scott Hoezee, Comments and Observations
________________________11. The Cape of Good Hope
I can still recall a geography lesson from elementary school in which we learned that the southernmost point of Africa is a point which for centuries has experienced tremendous storms. For many years no one even knew what lay beyond that cape, for no ship attempting to round that point had ever returned to tell the tale. Among the ancients it was known as the "Cape of Storms," and for good reason. But then a Portuguese explorer in the sixteenth century, Vasco De Gama, successfully sailed around that very point and found beyond the wild raging storms, a great calm sea, and beyond that, the shores of India. The name of that cape was changed from the Cape of Storms to the Cape of Good Hope.
Until Jesus Christ rose from the dead, death had been the cape of storms on which all hopes of life beyond had been wrecked. No one knew what lay beyond that point until, on Easter morning, those ancient visions of Isaiah became the victory of Jesus over our last great enemy. Suddenly, like those ancient explorers, we can see beyond the storm to the hope of heaven and eternal life with the Father. More than that, we dare to believe that we shall experience in our own human lives exactly what the Son of God experienced in his, for the risen Christ says to us, "Because I live, you shall live also." This is the heart of the Easter faith.
Robert Beringer, Easter People, CSS Publishing Company___________________________
12. Ongoing Easter
Ongoing Easter gets us finally home at last, for life is not an endless circle but life is moving to an end point. The crowning achievement of the risen Lord is to bring us finally home together with the whole family of God in that transition from time into eternity. It is a great privilege to witness that transition in the lives of people and I think of one this Easter day. Her name was Augusta. She lived 100 years, raised in the prairies of South Dakota, faced every manner of hardship and heartache, but was buoyant and lived on the resurrection side of the cross, raised a family. In the last hour of her life standing with her daughters around her in the hospital room, I heard her bless her daughters. Being a mother to the very end and with a twinkle in her eye, looked at the faces of her daughters around her and pointed to them each one and said, "Too much lipstick," and then closed her eyes in peaceful death.
That is the goal toward which the ongoing Easter draws us and transforms our dark, gloomy mornings into a shining doxology. We say with all the faithful of all of the ages, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. By His great mercy, we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, unfailing and undefiled, kept in heaven for you. Though you must go through various trials, all this is so that your faith may redound to the praise, glory and honor of Jesus Christ. Without having seen Him, we love Him, and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. The outcome of your faith is the salvation of your souls.
F. Dean Lueking, Ongoing Easter
_____________________________________13. Billy Graham responded to someone who shouted out "God is dead! God is dead!" Dr. Graham with tenderness replied, "That's strange because I just talked to Him in prayer a few minutes ago." Yes, the day you believe in the resurrection is the day you change the universe, and most importantly, you can reflect that transforming truth.
Eric S. Ritz