Thursday, April 9, 2009

Waiting on Easter

From my office, which is within a stone's throw of the sanctuary, I heard the Bible Study Ladies this morning, as always. But, this morning, the leader began the meeting by saying: "Happy Easter!"

I wanted to say, "Wait a minute. Today is Maundy Thursday; tomorrow is Good Friday. There is much to experience and go through before we get to Easter. For most of us, the Season of Lent seems like an encumbrance, a needless downer, when what we need is uppers.

Well, we can learn something from the wisdom of the church. On Maundy Thursday Jesus celebrated Passover with the disciples. It was his Last Supper and what we know now as Holy Communion, Mass, Eucharist. Then, after a long night of beating, a mock trial, the crowd demanded that Jesus be crucified.

The church knows that we need to go through Lent to get ready to celebrate. The church knows that the celebration of Easter is hollow without understanding what Jesus went through to get to Easter.

It's like this: no cross; no Easter. As one of my friends used to say, to be a candidate for resurrection you just have to be dead.

So, on these days of Holy Week, we remember and enter into the story. We are drawn into the story and we can sing: "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" And, of course, the obvious answer is that we were there. All time fades away as we gather to worship.

I know the cross is, according to Paul, a stumbling block, an offense. If you aren't offended by the cross, you aren't looking. For at least a few days, let's meditate on the meaning of the Jesus' crucifixion.

It has something to do with our sin, our separation from God, with our rebellion against God. Jesus, in some sense, takes upon himself the worst of the world's violence and hatred. He comes alongside us. He suffers and dies because you and I have to suffer and die.

Jesus' last word from the cross was: "It is finished." All of the work that he had come to do was now accomplished, complete.

Linger here a bit, and save "Happy Easter" until Easter.

Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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