Have you ever received an "Easter card" in the mail? I was sitting around tonight trying to recall if the mailman has ever plunked one in my box. If there ever was one, I have no memory of it.
Are we even certain though that such things exist? Hallmark or some other enterprising outfit surely must have at least considered the idea. The problem, if there is one with the holiday, is that folks don't spend much on it, like for instance the type of gift giving at Christmas or even Valentine's day. A ham, some sugary junk for the kids, and maybe some lilies, kinda rounds out the shopping spree. Perhaps cards aren't such a hot idea after all?
We could, (I suppose) deem this here bloggie thing as a sort of "card"? But let's face it, I am not going to mail this to you. Perhaps then, this is a one of a kind, and there is no definition of what it "really is"?
My old American Heritage dictionary has a great feature in the back of the book. Among the word definitions, also cited are Indo-european root words. As an example, the word "Easter" is linked to something called "awes" in the index. In brief, it means "to shine", which is not too surprising. The word apparently was originally part of some "dawn goddess" cult.
I can vaguely picture in my mind a gang of Germanic tribesmen, all tricked out in hides, horns and big knives. Since the sun rises in the east, the "dawn bringer" to those cold snowy places must have had quite an avid following.
In Christianland, I think the premise of "a new day dawning" does fit rather well, but there appear to be some hiccups involved.
If you ever visit a church on Easter, you will note the refrain. People need to be coached on it, and the first two or three reps are normally pretty lame. The minister or song leader announces "He is risen!". This is where you come in, and the assembly is supposed to joyously respond with; "He is risen indeed!". The entire exercise, seems to me to be a fairly accurate reading of "where" we are when it comes to the topic of lively zeal, thunderous acclaim, exhilarating triumph and whatnot.
I remember visiting a friend at an old folks home about 20 years ago. A group from one of the local churches was there. Big smiles, guitars, songbooks were all present. I paused for a few minutes to observe the "action".
The lively young gal was telling the old guys to clap, sing along and "get excited!". Uhm, it wasn't working? These coots were watching the show, one guy was kinda tapping his toes a bit, and one older lady had a big grin on. That was about "it".
Easter is a very weird holiday in that one is informed by worship leaders that we "ought be" joyous, exultant, and celebrating. I wonder sometimes about this sort of thing.
My old Dad used to wax eloquent occasionally on the topic of humor, and laughter. He asserted that laughing was good for you, relieved tension, and thus overall was a desirable thing. My response was ordinarily to the effect; "That may be true (I wouldn't know). . . but it ain't funny!". That is, if the goal is humorous release, then saying a funny thing might cause such, but a topical survey of possible health benefits of the "ha-ha" won't draw even a Mona Lisa type smile.
Likewise then, if the goal is to have a crowd buzzing with glad expectation and excitement, then you must say something exhilarating. To simply dump (yet another) load of guilt; that we do not meet your zeal expectations, might be true enough; but such is definitely not stirring.
The thing spirals downhill from that poor beginning, and the next cited "fact" is that people go nuts at NFL games, and NASCAR races. . . can't we get a little more jazzed; please? Uhm, it isn't working. We are the old folks.
The message of Easter actually is exciting. God is light, and in Him is no shadow at all. Glance up at the sun tomorrow morning. Imagine that type of light covering the entire sky, instead of the tiny fractional area that we know. Then add in life. Light (Himself) that not only is intelligent, but knows and decrees all which comes to pass is He. Isaiah had a vision of holy angels, with two of their wings, they must shield their eyes, in that stunning brillliance.
Easter is saying that Jeshua the Righteous now lives in that Presence. A human man, with a human body, well over two thousand years old, basks in that light!
The Christian confession that this Jeshua is "Lord" means an alarming thing. He is LORD God, the Almighty, and without contradiction, a man born in a barn. The belief that He is risen from the dead which we hold in the heart, is the evidence of His, and thereby ours also; victory.
Nobody wants to die, well, nobody except suicidal people want to die in any case. The unspoken reason for this isn't really death itself, but the Judge awaiting us on the other side of it! Pure, Holy and True is He. The light-life-knower of all, knows all of our secrets. Most folks would avoid that encounter if they could. Death says that they can't.
The reason Easter is joyous is that He survived that meeting! And on a 2-D model, a pebble tossed into a calm pond sends ripples all the way to shore. Jeshua is the "tiny" pebble, and the waves are still coming in!
The thing that makes folks excited at NASCAR races is the long struggle, the tension arising as to who will prevail at the end. The neck and neck tradeoffs of the lead position generate an anticipation, a tension within us, and it is to that "stress" we respond, by shouting. The win is close, it is nearby and achievable, we can "almost taste it"! Christianity is saying that Jeshua is in the winner's circle, and the smile that He is radiating out, is life!
The new creation which shall be, is also begun, even now; in this corrupted era of ours. The survivability of death and judgement He is the evidence (in us) of. He on His victory lap, has found a way to transfer His life and trust and hope into the fans. And rather than merely inviting us into the winner's circle to stand next to Him, He (somehow) has transferred the win. . . to us!
Those German tribesmen had it right! The new day, the new creation, the new start, is begun! The shining is the life, and He is True and Good. He has made us partners in the dance, younger brothers who are fully joint heirs of all that is. And in that very same body which the early believers knew Him, He is pleased to live. . . forever!
Forever; there is a man at the very summit of power, authority, knowledge, and light, and to that place we go, with eyes unshielded. He is making us all over again, into a new race of the forever alive, the forever glad. This new thing from that-then, placed into this-now is so strong that even we the numbed, we the dying; sense it! It affects even us.
So, tap your toes a bit if you'd care to, smile; remember, and think ahead. Whatever could death mean to a man like you who goes to meet his Maker, unafraid of Him who knowing it all, greets us as long-lost sons?
It means Easter, and the waves from that "tiny" pebble, will be coming in. . . always!