Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Forget Easter

Each year we are built up by the thought of Easter and a special celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is always an exciting time.  But I want us to forget about Easter.  Let me explain.

Easter is named after a pagan goddess.  It was a pagan holiday in various countries centered around new life and spring renewal.  Bunnies were associated with fertility and eggs were part of their gifts to good children.  Except for the stretch of association with new life, there is nothing sacred about Easter.

But we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on the first day of the week.  And the date for this celebration was established in 325 AD.  Here is the history:

Prior to A.D. 325, Easter was variously celebrated on different days of the week, including Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In that year, the Council of Nicaea was convened by Emperor Constantine. It issued the Easter Rule which states that Easter shall be celebrated on the first Sunday that occurs after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. However, a caveat must be introduced here. The "full moon" in the rule is the ecclesiastical full moon, which is defined as the fourteenth day of a tabular lunation, where day 1 corresponds to the ecclesiastical New Moon. It does not always occur on the same date as the astronomical full moon. The ecclesiastical "vernal equinox" is always on March 21. Therefore, Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday between the dates of March 22 and April 25.

The thing we celebrate is associated with the Jewish festival of First Fruits.  You can read about it in Leviticus 23.  Paul connects the dots for us in 1 Corinthians 15:

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. 

So Christ is our firstfruits.  When He comes He will bring with Him those who have died before us.  Then we who are alive when He comes will join them and we will live with Him forever.

That is why I don't really care about identifying with Easter.  But I do celebrate and lift up the fact that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead on firstfruits according to the festivals God has given. 

And if God fulfilled this part of His plan so completely, He will fulfill the rest of them the same.  Now that is something to get excited about.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

If I Were There. . . . .

We tend to think rationally, reasonably.  At this time of year, I try to imagine what it would be like if I had been there for those last days of Jesus' life.  And where would I be?  What would I be thinking?

It is hard without being in the situation, I understand.  But I assume I would be much like those who were there.  We were feeling good about things at the meal.  We went to pray and Jesus and the three "top dogs" went a little further.  Suddenly there were soldiers everywhere and Judas was there.  Jesus said something about him at the meal but I wasn't quite sure what He meant.  But it was clear now.  Judas led these soldiers here.  Betrayed.  Now Jesus was in the hands of the religious leaders who wanted Him dead.  We had to run in the darkness and then follow behind. 

Then on Friday, at the same time the Passover lamb was being killed, Jesus was being crucified.  This can't be.  How can He bring in the Kingdom if He dies.  He had to come off that cross.  He had to.  Its the only way it makes sense.  Then He died.  And He was placed in a tomb.   We are in shock and disbelief.  We were sure He was the answer, the Anointed One.  Now we don't know.

 We're confused?  Jesus has walked away from such situations before.  When they wanted to stone Him in Nazareth, He looked at them and walked through them.  They tried to capture Him in the temple courts before, but it seemed fear of the people kept them away.  But now it was night.  And the darkness spiritually was as deep as the night.  So much evil happens under cover of darkness.

We wonder what tomorrow will bring.

 Time hasn't changed this scenario.  There are people today who come to understand things up to the point of Jesus dying.  But they miss the point of the Resurrection.  The resurrection confirms the ugliness of the cross, the conquering of sin and death.  Life reigns.  That is what tomorrow will bring.

Has tomorrow come for you??

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Children Know

"Jesus loves the little children. . . ."  Jesus said we must enter heaven like a little child.  In our Upper Room, people can pray about many things.  There is an area to sit and humble ourselves.  An area that represents brokenness.  An area for revival.  An area for thankfulness and an area for waiting on the Lord.  There are people using it and it is exciting to think how their prayers are being answered. 

I loved hearing from Mark Matteson about their children asking questions and desiring to go to the Upper Room to pray for people they love.  Mark shared with me that they went there to pray after services and the kids loved it so much they spent over 25 minutes there, going section by section, praying and writing, and being thankful before the Lord. 

What a precious picture of the love of a Heavenly Father and the love He enjoys from little children.  We have much to learn from the children.

May we all enjoy His presence as much as little Julia!!