Easter, the celebration of Jesus' resurrection, has all the mystery of a chocolate covered cartoon in our culture. It is a mysterious thing, the idea that an immortal God found a way to die and that a man found a way to defeat death and that it was the same person in both instances. The details of the resurrection, the angels in the tomb, the discarded grave clothes, the resurrected Savior mistaken for a gardener, are too intriguing to be ignored. And yet, they get eclipsed in the popular imagination by jelly beans and Easter dresses.
Restoring a sense of wonder and mystery to your own celebration is possible, however.
1. Do Good Friday
Find a Good Friday service to attend. These services come in many shapes and sizes but all of them are typically somber and leave room for reflection. Making a big deal out of the death and crucifixion on Friday tends to give us a heightened appreciation for the wonder we enjoy on Sunday
2. Read the First Hand Accounts.
There were witnesses to the death and resurrection of the Jewish rabbi, Jesus Christ. They wrote down their accounts and passed them on to others who carefully preserved them for us. They have been corroborated by ancient historians like Tacitus and Josephus, and they are rich with detail. Read them for yourself. The account of a tax collector who followed Jesus. The account of a First Century Jew named Mark. The account of a physician. The account of a Jew named John who was very close to Jesus.
3. Spend the Saturday Before Easter in Silence
We live in a loud world. We ourselves are loud, and noise is the enemy of mystery. As much as possible, spend Saturday in complete silence, thinking about how silent the tomb must have been.
4. Plan Your Funeral
It's a good thing to do anyway and too few of us have. The Psalmist tells us to "number your days that you might gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12) Numbering your days is not only wise, but planning your funeral, thinking through what songs you'd like to have sung, and who you'd like to have speak, may be as close to sharing the tomb with Jesus as you can get.
5. Go to Church on Easter Morning
I know this probably seems like a self-serving post coming from a pastor, but it's true. One of the reasons that Jesus was pleased to return to the Father after his resurrection was that he was eager for the Father to send us the Holy Spirit in his place. And when we show up on Easter morning to worship the Risen Lord and the Holy Spirit makes his presence known we feel ourselves to be at the pulsating epicenter of a mystery that has defeated the grave and is redeeming our world. Those of us who've tasted that mystery are hooked.
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