What does it mean?
I awakened this morning to the wonder of this day, Easter. A day when we Christians celebrate the resurrection of our Saviour.
For me, a day filled with warm childhood memories during the early years in Mexico, before religious traditions put an end to Easter egg hunts. Was it an annual tradition? Or did it happen only once? I don’t know. But I remember searching for Easter candy as a preschooler. Tagging along with older siblings, the place I remember with greatest fondness is the straw bales, and finding candy there.
Life was harsh, back then, with family violence and struggling parents. But those moments were sweet. It wasn’t just the candy. My memory of the day held much deeper meaning than candy, though, back then, I did like the sugar rush too. (Less, now). The sweetness was a blend of the treats and a reprieve from the mundane, struggling, ordinary life. A life I would grow up to discover was not ordinary at all. But back then it was.
Easter morning, long after the candy hunts ended, or hunt as the case may be, became a day of hope for me, starting in childhood. We moved to Canada the summer before I turned six. If we ever did an Easter candy hunt again, I have no recollection of it. But I distinctly remember the hope.
Hope that filled my chest one crisp Easter morning when I was around eight. There was no particular reason for it, other than a feeling that I had been conditioned for, in Mexico. It was a day set apart. I was dressed in my Sunday best, with little white ankle socks and shiny black patent shoes, with straps. It was the straps I liked the most. They made me feel pretty. I went outside that crisp Easter morning, and as I breathed in, it was as if I breathed in new life. It had been cool enough the night before that a thin shell of ice had formed over the puddle. I tapped it with my shoe, breaking it, and picked up a piece to feel the coolness.
It was a happy morning.
My father stood chatting with someone who had dropped by. I listened without hearing, and watched them. And then I ran off to play in the old car, with no wheels, sitting amongst dad’s junk collection. (Or ‘prell’ as we called it in Plautdeutsch, rolling the ‘r’).
I’ve often wondered why I recall that morning so vividly, and still, at 50, feel it when I think back. The scene, forever etched on my memory, is profound only for what I felt. Joy. Peace. Hope. That same feeling is associated with a special yellow dress I had in my early teens. And every Easter, most of my life, since childhood.
Easter. What does it mean to me?
In childhood, Easter was the silver lining in a hard life. It took me years to understand why it filled my chest as it did, long after the candy hunts ended, no longer part of our family’s tradition. Even before I truly understood the symbolism of its spiritual meaning.
Today I understand.
That special day, searching for candy among the straw bales, hope was birthed in me. In stark contrast with the harshness of life, the simple celebration of that morning, wandering our property in search of candy, was a blessed relief. It promised a better life is possible.
Somewhere in my teens I started to grasp the deep spiritual significance of that childhood hope. The stirring in my chest transitioned from that childhood unknown, to a powerful awareness of what Jesus did for me on the cross.
I, a sinner. He, God eternal. And He chose that broken path to the cross, for me. For my sin. My redemption. He chose trauma, death, and suffering. For me. To offer me reprieve from the brokenness of my life. Dying for my sin. And, not only for my sin, but all the brokenness that I would experience. And yours. He stepped in, unhesitatingly,
A promise of love, that declared I am worth being loved. Of being valued. So worth love that He would die to buy my freedom to know love.
We call that day, “Good Friday”. I read the story, and ponder the path He walked, His suffering, and I think there’s not one good thing about that day. Nothing. How can it be good when they kill an innocent man, and it is my sin and shame that played a hand in it?
It is the darkest of days in our Christian. history. It is symbolic of my life before I knew Him personally. That day. It feels like the days when violence ruled my childhood. Heavy. Broken. Tragic.
I remember it. I acknowledge it. I worship my God on ‘that day’. I am deeply, deeply grateful for that day. But it is not ‘Good Friday’ to me. No offence to my Christian heritage and chosen lingo. It was a Friday (or Thursday, depending who you ask), from hell. It was evil, at its lowest depths, attacking the sacred like it never had before. Like it never would, or even could, again.
That Day was the epitome of evil, the height of spiritual darkness.
Oh… but Easter was coming!
On that third day, when hope of a fulfilled promise, seemed to have died… When death would have begun to set into the corpse… When the rituals of spicing the body of The Christ had been delayed because of the Sabbath, and would not be so pleasant with decay having begun…
That Easter morning. Hope was dead. The harsh reality of practical burial rituals beckoned Mary to return and begin the process of grieving properly.
There, in utter hopelessness, He was. A promise fulfilled. Risen from the grave. Fully alive.
In that moment, as His body breathed in deep of our fallen world, He took in, again, the sins and sorrows of the generations.
And as He exhaled, He breath filled our world with His Eternal Presence.
Hope, birthed in an infant, snuffed out on the cross – or so it seemed, came alive in His resurrection.
Hope breathed the eternal into our fallenness. Our brokenness. Our sorrow. Our lostness.
That’s what Easter means to me.
Hope. A promise fulfilled. New life.
This Easter, wherever you find yourself in the midst of this present chaos, I pray His life will breathe hope into your heart.
I pray that…
Where there is fear, may you be filled Hope. Where there is brokenness, Hope will touch you with His healing. Where there is fallenness, Hope will cover you with forgiveness, grace and redemption. Where there is betrayal, Hope will surround and fill you with love. Where there is emptiness, Hope will rise victorious in you; that your life will be the testimony of the empty tomb giving birth to new and greater things, of eternal value. Above all, I pray, that you will know the Jesus of the resurrection, personally. No matter who you are (or think you are), or what you have done, Jesus died, for you. But He did not stay in the grave! He conquered death so that you, so that I, would know eternal life with Him.
This is my prayer for you today, and for me.
As I wrote this, Broken Vessels crossed my YouTube playlist. I will leave it here for you to enjoy, if contemporary worship is your thing. It is my testimony. The revelation of His love. The wonder that He would lay down His life to raise the broken to life.
What a Saviour!
~ T ~