Easter memories and actualities

Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!

The sanctuary is adorned with myriad pots of white Easter lillies wrapped in purple foil, and the organ plays. Our children’s choir, in two-piece robes with ridiculous, huge bows at our necks, walks down the center aisle, singing Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee to the tune of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. When our choir gets into place up front, our minister floats across the platform in his white robe with the special purple and gold scarf and begins the invocation. “Jesus is risen. Let us rejoice.” And the adult choir begins the anthem.

One very early Easter morning when I was a teen, our family went to a park to hear another choir’s resurrection songs. I remember the trees were lacy with tiny chartreuse leaves, dogwoods were in bloom, and the beautiful voices sang out. Low in the grave He lay Up from the grave He arose! It was thrilling.

Between my participation in the children’s choir and the dewy Easter morning in the park, I was born again. I understood the significance of Easter. No tomb can hold Him. He is God. He is our Redeemer. He’s alive!

The resurrection is the crowning pinnacle of the gospel.

Jesus died on the cross. That’s a terrible and wonderful fact, since His death—the perfect Son of God willingly paying the price for my sins—made it so that I could decide to acknowledge that payment and be saved.

And, even though He died and was buried, He rose.

Jesus told his disciples what would happen. He told the Jewish leaders as well. But his disciples didn’t understand. The leaders did, but they said, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God (John 19:7b).

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened (made alive) by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

After Jesus’ death, the Jewish leaders paid hush money to those who guarded the tomb, so that the people wouldn’t know what happened (Matthew 28:11-15).

Many saw Him after the resurrection. He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me (Paul) also, as of one born out of due time (1 Corinthians 15:5-8).

Well over five hundred people saw Jesus alive, walking on the earth, talking to them, even eating food. He stayed around for forty days.

Disciples and angels watched as He ascended into heaven, promising to come again.

Why is it so important that Jesus is alive? Wasn’t His death enough?

Many religions portray Jesus on the cross, in glass caskets, and lying down on slabs—dead. While it’s true He suffered on the cross and was buried in a cave tomb, the most miraculous part of the gospel is His resurrection.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).

The resurrection of Jesus gives us the way to eternal life. The resurrection gives us hope.

Jesus said unto her (the woman at the well), I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live (John 11:25).

Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!

Have a Happy Easter!

Expressions of Love

Have you ever read old Valentines? They can be really corny. The honeybee says, “Won’t you bee mine?” and the little secretary bats her eyes and murmurs, “You’re just my type.” Cartoon green Martians declare, “You’re out of this world.” Then, we have those lacey, flowery Victorian Valentines with their declarations of love. For example: “Fain would I guard thee through life’s desert drear, And fling around thee love to soothe and cheer, For thoe I live might I but call thee mine, I’d be forever thy own Valentine.” If I ever got one like that, I’d crack up for sure!

My husband makes up little love poems for me. They are terrible poetry, but I know the sentiment is real. They usually begin with “You are my” or “Roses are red.” They’re composed in the moment and always hilarious.

As a child, we decorated shoeboxes with hearts and doilies and put slits in the tops to serve as mailboxes, for our classmates to give us Valentines. We took Valentines to class, and gave each of our fellow classmates a Valentine as well. They were of the honeybee and Martian types (above). The whole concept was goofy. I mean, what did “Won’t you bee mine?” mean in third grade? We were clueless.

Expressions of love.

Real love.

Abiding love.

We all need it. The whole world clamors for love. Usually, the world has no idea where to find love, but it continues to search. Every person on earth wants to feel loved, protected, and cherished.

There is one source of this kind of love. And, there’s one eternal Valentine worth reading: God’s expression of love, the Bible. Enjoy reading what He says to you:

  • The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee (Jeremiah 31:3).
  • For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
  • Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35, 38-39).
  • Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).

The Bible is Truth. We can rely on the fact that God loves us. Nothing can separate us from His love. We can give our own cares over to Him.

God’s love—expressed here as great love—gave us salvation. Many times in the Bible, the love of God is linked to His provision of salvation and accompanied by mercy and grace. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7).

God’s love is reflected in our love for others. In fact, the Bible says that when we love God, we will love others.

  • He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him (1 John 4:8-9, 16).
  • When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22:37, 39).
  • As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. These things I command you, that ye love one another (John 15:9, 12-13, 17).

Not only are we supposed to love others, we’re to encourage them to love—that Valentine word again—and do good. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works (Hebrews 10:24). When people see our lives and the way we treat others, they should be encouraged to do the same.

Walking in the Way shares one more Valentine verse:

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us,

and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice

to God for a sweetsmelling savour (Ephesians 5:2).

May God bless your life with His love.