The other side of Easter
"There are so many other things Jesus did (following his resurrection). If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books." (John 21:25, The Message)
By Bishop Robert Hayes Jr.
Someone recently asked me what I miss most from my time as pastor of a local church. The answer comes easily.
Without a doubt, it is participating in the Easter season. I still long to again be fully involved in a local-church family for those 40 days of Lent, in all the activities that take place from Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday. In retrospect, those weeks leading up to and including the most important observance of our faith have been among the most enjoyable and meaningful times in my spiritual life.
I remember the Lenten Bible studies; securing the palms for Passion Sunday; Holy Week, with the moving, candlelight Communion service on Maundy Thursday; the three-hour-long Good Friday service; the dyeing of eggs; rehearsing the Easter speeches; the Easter egg hunts; and, of course, the many services on Easter Sunday. In churches that I pastored, our Easter Day celebrations began at sunrise and concluded late in the afternoon, when the children gathered to recite their speeches.
Gone for me are the days of such deep local involvement in celebrating Easter, but I do remember and really miss that. And today, I grow tired just thinking about all the things that had to be done during that season.
One particular Easter season, in a church that I served, the children’s ministry coordinator clearly was overwhelmed by the amount of preparation that had to be done.
She entered my office and declared, "Rev. Hayes, if I can just make it to the other side of Easter, I’ll be fine!"
Her words have stayed with me across the years. That’s because I’ve discovered "the other side of Easter" is just as important as the Easter season itself!
As followers of the risen Lord in 2014, we again are on "the other side of Easter," and it is time for us to boldly go out and proclaim what these past few weeks have meant to us. It is in this time that we must share with the world the difference Easter has made in our lives and about this man Jesus, who defeated death and is alive forevermore!
In Acts 1:22 we read about the requirement for a new disciple in the initial days following the death of Jesus. The original disciples agreed that a new member of their team must "become a witness with us to His resurrection."
How many of you experienced his resurrection anew this Easter? How many of you are convinced beyond the shadow of doubt that Jesus is alive? If you know this, are you prepared to share it?
In this day and age, it is not enough to cultivate a nice, Christian personality. No longer is simply being a good example sufficient. Nor can we just talk about Jesus and expect reciting Bible stories to lead others to Christ.
We reside in an era where it is necessary not only to live the Christian life, but also to demonstrate it in our actions!
The early Christians were so vociferous in their witnessing that the New Testament word for witness, matureo, was transliterated into our English word martyr — one who dies for his or her beliefs.
The other side of Easter demands that we go to the ends of the earth to tell our story, and in telling the story we ourselves are changed!
Soon after Jesus burst forth from the tomb, he appeared to his disciples, huddled behind closed doors. He showed them his wounded hands and side, and he declared, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you. And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’" (John 20:21-22)
Well, you and I have made it to the other side of Easter! Now, what will we do with what we’ve seen and heard?