An Easter of unending joy

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“Abide with us, that so, this life of suffering over past, an Easter of unending joy we may attain at last!”

So ends the well-known Lenten hymn “Lord, who throughout these forty days.” It’s a good reminder that all of life, even in Lent, ultimately points toward Easter joy.

It’s a good thing, too. It’s been a rough year. It seems like Lent started in 2020 and just never stopped. Life as we know it is disrupted, perhaps permanently in some ways. Certainly the church has had to adapt. While we might yearn for familiar patterns and places, we can also see that getting pushed into new frontiers of ministry could bring blessings, too.

Many of us are more aware of social inequity than we were before a year of disturbing revelations of deep social racism and economic injustice. It’s not that these ugly realities weren’t true already, but they were conveniently concealed from too many people. Thanks be to God, more people seem to be engaging in transforming unjust structures of society.

Wherever we are, however the pandemic has affected us, it’s likely we’re exhausted. “Pandemic brain” is real. So where do we look for hope? How can we hope in the first place?

I for one am grateful for the imminent arrival of the Easter season. Green blades are rising. Where I live, the weather is allowing us to be outdoors more, which is a great gift after a winter of isolation and quarantine. People are receiving vaccines. While the rise of variant strains of COVID-19 forces us to stay vigilant, we can almost see a path to the end of the pandemic.

But even more than all that, Easter reminds us that we are never far from God’s love. Against the evil, fear, sin, and destruction of the world, God our Father sent Jesus Christ into our world to be for us perfect love. Jesus taught us. He showed us a new way. Ultimately he died for us, offering his very life on the cross for our salvation.

This is where the story gets amazing. Death isn’t the end. You know that. I know that. And the Easter season gives us 50 days to bask in the glory of a startling truth: God’s love is stronger than fear, destruction, evil, sin, and death itself.

That gives us hope. Disease and racism don’t fully define our reality, though we do need to fight both. Evil and sin do not rule our lives, though we need to die daily to our old ways of living. There is no suffering that God does not know with us. There is no place and no person who is beyond redemption.

Over the season of Easter, I’m writing reflections every day, starting on Easter Day. You can visit About the Site to get the details, but most days’ reflections will be based on scripture. Musical Mondays will allow us to celebrate some of the songs of Easter anthems and hymns. Throwback Thursdays will take us back to some of the earliest writings of church leaders. You may sign up to get email notifications of new posts, if you like.

The question I’m trying to work out is this: What does it look like for my life if I take Easter seriously? What does Easter mean to us and to the church?

Let’s go on a journey, you and I, as we celebrate with joy the great 50 days of the Easter season.

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