An Unexpected Celebration
By Anthony Casperson
Resurrection Sunday is tomorrow. This year, it’s going to be a little different. (And I’m not talking about the fact that it happens to have fallen on my birthday this year.)
Hundreds (or thousands, depending on the size of the gathering space) of people crammed into buildings around the world to focus on the resurrection of Jesus. New suits and dresses adorn many. Pageantry abounds. Huge choirs sing forth the praise of our Risen King. Children stage plays of the life of Jesus. His followers ecstatically celebrate God’s raising of our Savior from the dead. Together…
This year, we’re mostly huddled in our homes with our families (if we live with them). Fear or worry strikes at us if we even think about being out in public. The possibility of facing deadly circumstances plays out in our minds. And in those rare occasions that we do go out, we cover our faces to protect ourselves.
Some might grieve over the loss of the church calendar’s biggest show. This Sunday is the reason why Sundays are the day we normally gather the rest of the year. Smaller versions of the Resurrection Day celebration. And if we can’t celebrate the big day together, can we really enjoy it?
But in all of this reminiscing about celebrating our Lord in the past, I was reminded of the fact that this year is much closer to the feel of those couple of days after Jesus was nailed on the cross, like one of the worst criminals under Roman law.
The followers of Jesus huddled behind locked doors in smaller groups. Fear and worry struck at them about going out. If those who crucified Jesus saw them, it could mean their own death. They covered their faces, in those rare occasions where they actually went out, to protect themselves.
When they arose early in the morning that Sunday, it wasn’t to go to a sunrise service in fancy clothes with smiles on their faces. The women who went to the tomb that sunrise went to grieve the loss of their hope. Many of Jesus’ closest followers wondered what they were going to do now that their lives were turned upside down. Everything was different.
Their world had changed.
But that day they came face to face with the fact that God had changed the world through an empty tomb. Hope wasn’t lost. It was found in the risen Jesus. Their joy came in the truth that, even amidst the difficulties of life, their Lord had chosen them to be his.
It wasn’t that their problems magically went away. Death was still a possibility. But there’s no sting to death when you serve a God who has raised the dead. The dark times of our lives don’t stop coming when we follow Jesus. But when our focus is on the Light of the world, those difficulties can still meet us praising our Risen King.
Some people recently have lost jobs. Many more have ceased the ability to earn income for the time being. Everything seems to have changed almost overnight. But such difficulties shouldn’t stop our celebration of the resurrection. The tomb stands…but it’s empty.
Yeah, it’s going to take time for things to get back to some form of normal. Many difficult choices are going to come in the next few months. And I’m not going to promise that everything is going to be perfect before the return of our King. But I do promise that we have a true reason to joyfully praise our God. We stand in the hope of the Risen One.
Things may not look like we thought they would right now. This celebration of Resurrection Sunday is very different than normal. But then again, this isn’t the first time that fearful tears met the empty tomb.