The Easter leftovers are in the refrigerator (not mine, mind you, because I didn't cook). The dresses, ties, and suits have been rehung or sent to the cleaners. The decorations have been pulled down and packed away. And, if you are like us, there is way too much candy sitting on the counter. I am throwing away a little each day actually - rather than just doing it all at once. :)
Easter has been wrapped up and tucked away. Is it that way for our hearts? Or is it possible to have the "power of Easter" live in our hearts every day?
I have often felt on Easter Sunday that we have this incredible build up to the "DAY". We prepare our hearts by acknowledging each important day of Holy Week. We put our outfits together. We schedule our family dinners. We buy the baskets, the eggs, and the candy. We are all set.
Yet, we arrive at church and all we can think of is the ham in the oven and the toy we forgot to add to the basket. We are checking off our mental to do list, and we blink and the church service is over. We smile, we hug a few friends and family, and we move on to our next "Easter" activity. It's a day full of activities and then we collapse in exhaustion by the end of the day.
Please understand, there is nothing wrong with baskets and candy - we did those on Saturday with the kids. There is nothing wrong with Easter meals - we happened to just go to the good old Texas Roadhouse. Simply because I don't cook and we are always too exhausted from the morning to attend any kind of gathering.
But, here is what I am asking in the midst of the Easter hangover - do we really get it? Do we understand that the resurrection power that is alive in us as children of God is alive in us every day of the week - if we invite it in? If we cultivate it, nourish it, and allow it - the same power that rose Him from the grave is the same power that lives in us today.
We work to have such fanfare this one Sunday of the year. Church staff all over the country creatively and strategically plan and prepare for what is often called the church's "Super Bowl Game Day". We get dressed in our Sunday best. We scrounge up as many family and friends who do not normally attend, and drag them to the church - line them up down the row.
The whole day is really a big to do. Yet, in many ways it can fall flat or at the very least we just simply move right back into our routines on Monday as if Easter didn't occur. Why? Because, here is the thing, that is not really what it is about and that is not really what He's about. He never was about fanfare. He never demanded that we move ourselves into exhaustion to celebrate His resurrection. He never required the bells and whistles. He asks simply for our just our hearts - just our surrender. Not on one day. Daily.
When the ground shook, and the stone was rolled away - it seems that not many were standing there. There was not a big crowd, it was simply Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, an angel or two, and a few guards.
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.
The ladies run away and all of the sudden out of nowhere Jesus appears along their path. It's like an- "oh by the way" - here I am. Subtle and without a big to do. Because that is just Him. Always. It was so simple and quiet - they could have easily missed Him.
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them.
The passages above are from Matthew. This is the only account of the earth shaking. The rest of the gospel accounts simply say that "they looked up and the stone was rolled away". I think we can understand from all accounts that the act of His resurrection was not quite the focus. The gospel accounts focus on His interactions AFTER the resurrection occurred. They focus on Jesus' words before He ascended. Not the resurrection moment itself.
Jesus rises from the dead, and immediately gets down to business. The people. His teachings. His purpose.
Many did not believe that He had risen. Most doubted. If they were looking for trumpets blowing, earthquakes, shouts, and a big party - it didn't happen. I am not sure what they were looking for - not certain what they were hoping would occur. It didn't seem to matter how much had been prophesied or how much Jesus had spoken about this very moment. They almost missed it, because it didn't happen the way they thought? Because they were focused on other things? Because they had already forgotten? Because they were focused on their grief? I really don't know, but they almost missed it.
In the midst of our own desire for fanfare, the bells and whistles of Easter, let's not miss Him. If we are focused on the wrong things, we will miss it. If we are looking for the wrong things, we will miss it. If we focus on the resurrection power only on the day that the act was accomplished - we will miss it. When we wrap up Easter, and tuck it away until next year - we just simply miss it. Do we desire His presence in our lives as much as we acknowledge His presence in our lives on Easter?
He lives among us - in us. Every day. Not just on Easter Sunday or through Holy Week. Every day, He offers that same resurrection power to us. It's not a religious duty or obligation. It's life with Jesus. It's a moving, breathing relationship. Look at His immediate interactions with the people. Like Mary, when we are afraid, He is peaceful and calm and tells us to have peace. When we doubt like His disciples, He is patient and gracious and works with us until we believe. Like Peter, when we fail and disappoint Him, He forgives us and shows love and grace. Every day, we can live in the amazement and joy that the people felt when they realized it was Him and He had truly accomplished what He had promised.
The joy of our Savior stays long after Easter has been wrapped up and stored away. Each day He is fulfilling promises. Each day He is working in our lives in big or small ways. Yet, if we always look for Him in the great and the loud - we just might miss Him in the small and quiet. His simple and beautiful grace is the power of His resurrection in our lives each day.