A devotion for the Sunday of Holy Week
Easter Changes Everything
by Rev. Richard Leaver
Director of Mission and Pastoral Care, United Methodist Communities at Collingswood
In (Jesus Christ) we have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace…In Him also we have received an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His own will that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, should live for the praise of His glory. In Him…(we) also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit…He predestined us to adoption as sons (and daughters) to Himself through Jesus Christ…, 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace…11 In Him also we have received an inheritance…12 that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, should live for the praise of His glory. 13 In Him you also, after hearing the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and after believing in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1: 4, 6, 7, 11-14).
Easter does not fall on the same date each year in the way that Christmas does every December 25. The date for Easter each year always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.
Once you find the date of Easter, however, everything else finds its place. Once you know the date for Easter, you know the date for Good Friday and Maundy Thursday, you know the date for Ash Wednesday, the Transfiguration, and the date for the Ascension, and Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit for the church.
Easter determines everything and defines everything. It orders not only the entire church year, such as when an important day on the church calendar is to be celebrated, but it orders our very lives. Easter defines and gives meaning to our lives and to the things that happen in our lives. Thus as Easter defines everything that means it changes everything too. It redefines who we are, where we stand in relationship with the Triune God, and with every human being; in fact with all of creation.
Easter transforms everything. Without Easter death would still have sway over us. If there was no Easter we would still be full our sins. Without Easter our faith and hope would be held in vain. Without Easter, Jesus is not raised from the dead, and there is no eternal life. But Jesus is raised from the dead. Therefore, darkness is overcome with light, wrath with peace, fear with hope, angst with rest, sadness with joy, hatred with love, sin with righteousness, and death with life eternal. Easter changes everything, redefines everything, and determines everything.
But why isn’t life always experienced that way? Why do our loved ones still die? Why do we still sin? Why are we still afraid of our future and tormented by our past? Why are we still filled with anguish and sadness?
It is because we, like the women who went to the tomb searching for Jesus, are looking in the wrong place. And so the angel says to the women at the tomb: You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. . . . Why do you seek the living among the dead?” It is as if the angel said: “You are searching for the right thing, but you are looking in the wrong place.” “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise. And they remembered his words. (Luke 24:5-8)
Our problem is that in our search for the right things, we look in the wrong places. We ask the wrong questions, and therefore, we get the wrong answers. We look to our works, our experience, our feelings, and our history as the keys that hold the answers to our future. But the answers to our deepest questions are not to be found in us. This is the wrong place, perhaps even the wrong questions. The answers are to be found in the Lord’s words.
And what does the Lord say? I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. (John 11:25-26a)
Easter changes everything, determines everything, and defines everything. Easter changes and defines you and me and our present and our future.
In the John 11 text I quote above there is a second part of verse 26, 26b. It may be one of the most important questions of your life. He asks Martha, “Do you believe this?” Do you? How you answer determines everything.
Have a blessed Easter.