Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter Reflections

With the arrival of spring and the new life we see in nature, also comes Good Friday and Easter.  It’s such an important reminder to not forget what Jesus did for us and to give thanks for the new life we have in him.

Jesus is alive!  The evidence is clearly seen by his hand of mercy and his loving care in our lives and in the lives of those around us. 

During the Easter season, as we reflect on what Jesus did as he took the sin of all mankind on himself and died on the cross, we’re humbled and awed by his unconditional love for us.  We have so much to be thankful for as we think about his sacrificial death on our behalf and then his joyful resurrection.  Easter is such a happy day as we celebrate our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  

Traditions are an important part of the Easter celebration.  Whether it’s memories of when you were growing up or new ones that you’ve established in your family, it’s a good thing to carry on traditions.  I’d like to share some of my treasured childhood memories with you… 

When I was a little girl, when we woke up on Easter morning, we found an Easter basket filled with delicious candy eggs and chocolate bunnies by our bedside.  We hopped out of bed with anticipation for the day and quickly ate breakfast.  Then we put on our brand new Easter outfits.  

Mother loved dressing us up, so my brothers wore suits and ties, and my sisters and I got matching hats, gloves and little purses to go with our frilly dresses.  Yes, we actually wore Easter bonnets! 

(Here’s an interesting fact… The custom of new clothes for Easter actually began when the early Christians were baptized the day before Easter.  After they were baptized, they put on new clothes to show their new life in Christ.) 

Before we could head off to church, we had our family picture taken in our new Easter clothes.  Mother loved taking pictures.  Now that I’m grown up, I’m glad that we have all those old pictures.  But at the time, we didn’t always enjoy it, because she was a firm believer that, for the best lighting, we had to face the bright sun.  She would position us so that the sun was behind the photographer and it was shining directly in our eyes.  So, a lot of our pictures show us squinting or looking down because the bright sunshine made our eyes water! (I’m the one in the white dress, yellow sweater and hat in the picture, looking down because of the bright sun in my eyes. My little brother, Paul, in my father's arms, is bothered by the sun in his eyes, too.  Everyone else bravely squinted).

After church, we went to Nano and Papa’s house.  They were my grandparents on my father’s side and we often went to their house after church on Sunday.  Easter was especially fun because my aunts, uncles, and cousins would come over, too, and we had a big Easter egg hunt after lunch.  

(Another interesting fact:  The tradition of colored Easter eggs started in the Christian Orthodox churches of Eastern Europe. The eggs were dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ, and the hard shell represents the stone covering His tomb. Cracking the shell open represents the celebration of His resurrection.) 

My prayer is that you’ll experience the wonder of Easter with renewed hope and joy.  And that if you haven’t already done so, you’ll embrace God’s forgiveness of our sins and his free gift of salvation.  Remember, Christianity is not about religion.  It’s about a relationship with Jesus Christ.  We have been reconciled with God through Jesus’ sacrificial death for us on the cross as payment for our sins. 

The awe-inspiring miracle of Easter is that Jesus died and rose again.  By his sacrifice he brings hope for all people throughout eternity. 

Happy Easter!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls".  1 Peter 1:3-9

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