Here’s an article I wrote printed today’s in the Eugene Register Guard. I’ve also imbedded the text in case the transfer doesnt work! http://www.registerguard.com/web/newslocalnews/27868863-41/easter-jesus-joy-message-hope.html.csp
When I think of Easter, I often think back to when our children were young. My wife was especially good at being the Easter Bunny, hiding baskets for us in the backyard, rain or shine. After church we would all enjoy searching for eggs, candy and gifts! Joy for me is an essential part of the Christian Easter message. And yet it often seems to me that the religious aspect of Easter has more of a sense of sadness and heaviness than that of joy and hope. Christmas for Christians is full of joy for the birth of Jesus. Joy during Easter? Not so much. As a matter of fact when I was younger I felt so much sadness from other Christians during Easter, that I thought that we must have been commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus, rather than his resurrection. Why all this focus on pain, suffering and death? In order to get a sense of the joy and hope felt by his followers at his resurrection, imagine yourself one of Jesus’ followers during his healing ministry. Perhaps you have been with him for three years–you have a lot invested in his mission! You’ve heard his message, the gospel or ‘good news’ that the Kingdom of God is at hand–right here within you. You witness God’s presence, power, and unconditional love for everyone through Jesus’ love for others and the healings of multitudes, including supposed ‘sinners’ and outcasts. Then suddenly your leader is gone. Your goals and purpose in life have been stopped dead in their tracks, leaving only despair and hopelessness. So you decide to try to forget about the whole thing– to return to your old ways and your former job. You’re out on a lake in the early morning trying in vain to catch some fish. As the day dawns Jesus appears on the shore! Can you imagine the joy and hope you would feel!? Jesus has risen from the grave, proving that his life–and your life–really is eternal. Proving that love conquers hate. Proving that the kingdom of heaven really IS right here. Jesus’ resurrection has just demonstrated the Message that he has been saying all along. And you finally get it. You no longer need Jesus to be with you because you have this Message. You remember that Jesus promised that God would send another Comforter. This Message of joy and hope is now your Comforter. Today many people may feel nearly as lost and as hopeless as that disciple did before the resurrection. Yet in these darkest moments, the message of Easter speaks to our hearts. Because of the resurrection, it tells us that we, too, have an unbroken connection with our all-loving Father/Mother God. It tells us that, through the grace of God, we, too, are always worthy of Her love; that everyone is always deserving of healing. This is the message of joy, hope, and comfort that Easter brings to me today.