One of my professors at Asbury told us a story about what happens on Easter in some Eastern European countries. Christians will gather outside at sunrise and then run up and down the streets, banging pots and pans and shouting “Christ is risen!” This sounds like an amazing sight to behold; it is definitely something I would like to see someday. Such exuberant joy about the risen Christ is not something I have experienced too often in American churches. Wouldn’t the excitement be contagious? Wouldn’t you become excited that Christ is truly alive and the conqueror of death if you got to run down a street screaming and banging on a skillet at 6:00 AM?
This year I can’t wait for Easter to get here. I know I’ve never been this excited about Easter before in my life. Usually I am excited for Christmas and hardly notice Easter, but that has changed this past year. I think all these Methodists with whom I’ve been going to school did it. Last Easter at Asbury was an absolute blessing. I had never seen so many people excited about the fact that Christ is risen (He is risen indeed!). Chapel services, Facebook posts, liturgies—all celebrated the resurrected Christ. I think churches I’ve been a part of have always made a bigger deal about what happened to Christ on Friday than what he did on Sunday, the power of his death rather than the power of his life. I think that Friday has always been my focus too.
Maybe this is one of the signs that I am growing in my walk with the Lord. I used to be captured by the death of Christ, his agony, the redemption we find in his blood shed for us, the forgiveness from the agony of my own sins. Now I seem to have turned a corner. Without leaving the death of Christ behind, I have begun to desire to live in light of the resurrected life of Christ. It’s much less clear to me what this means, what this looks like. I think living in Christ’s resurrection means living in perfect love, abundant peace, freedom to simply…live. I think that my whole life is being reformed by the constant knowledge that, not only did Christ die for us, but he lives for us as well.
Jesus tells us to die to ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. And so as humble disciples we are called to die. He also says he has come to give us life and life abundantly. And so as rejoicing disciples we are called to live. Death and life are what Easter is all about. Death and life are the full scope of the disciple’s calling; everything else we do as a Christian is either dying to self or living for Christ.
The David Crowder Band’s final album came out a few days ago. It’s an amazing work, a contemporary requiem mass, a fitting end for my favorite worship band. The lyrics are great and the music is incredible, but I have been captured most by the message of the requiem. Requiems are written for endings, and the album moves from a cry for rest to a cry for mercy to a final cry for God’s presence. And then it ends with the old hymn “Because He Lives.” I find this such a fitting piece to put at the end of a requiem. The requiem for each of our lives will be played someday, just as it has been for the David Crowder Band. But, through all the endings and death, Jesus lives. We live now because he lives. We will live again someday because he lives. That’s what Easter is all about.
It’s still a couple of months until Easter, but I was too excited right now to save this post until then. Let the countdown begin!