This year, like all of you, I will worship on Easter via Facebook, and I’ll spend the day with my hubby and Hank the cat instead of a houseful of young adults and friends. It’s tempting to let Easter 2020 slip by as another Sunday on the calendar, but let’s not. Let’s make Easter special despite quarantine and a fearful pandemic. Here’s three things you can do to make it memorable and special.
Go See the Sunrise
How many times have you wanted to attend an Easter sunrise service, but you had too many obligations that day? Now you can go! Check your local weather for the exact time of your sunrise. It’s going to rise at 6:44 AM here in Wilmington, NC. Yes, the beaches are closed. Some of us can’t leave our homes depending on where we live in the country and world, but there is no law against stepping out onto your porch, balcony, or into your backyard and enjoying a blazing morning horizon and the joyous songs of the birds. (You can take a nap in the afternoon.) Pour some coffee, bundle up if it’s cold, grab your Bible and journal, and enjoy. At times like these we all need a sunrise. We need to remember God’s faithfulness.
Extend Your Quiet Time
As I’ve been pondering the simplicity we’ve been forced to live, I’ve realized my life is slower. Staying home does have it’s benefits. One of those benefits is time with the Lord. I confess, Sundays are my worst days for quiet time. How many of us rush out the doors in break-neck speed to get to church? We dress and feed kids, tie shoes, and arrive early to prepare for Sunday school, set up for volunteers, ________________________________(You put what you do here.) This Easter I will have plenty of time to read the Bible and journal.
Starting this week, deliberately spend twenty extra minutes in the Word. If you don’t know what to study, I’ve provided a Bible reading plan printable with scriptures and prompts. Do more than just read your Bible. Start digging deeper. If you’ve never done a Bible study, this is a great time to start one or maybe it’s time to dig out the one you stated three years ago but never finished. I invite you to dive into the Book of Ruth with me in my Key-Word Bible study, A 31 Day Journey to Hope and Promise. Other favorite study ideas:
- A Woman’s Heart, God’s Dwelling Place, Beth Moore (My all-time favorite Bible Study.)
- The Strength of a Woman: 31 Days to Celebrating Your Place in Proverbs 31, by Lauren Crews
- Praying the Names of God, by Ann Spangler
Cook a Simple Easter Dinner
Whatever your tradition, if you can get to the store, pick a few of your favorite dishes, and celebrate Jesus. Get out the table cloth and good china, or have a picnic in the back yard. Make it a special, yummy day. If I end up making my grandmother’s Italian Cream Cake, well, then I have something to share with my neighbors (because Mike and I don’t need to eat it all!) Don’t make this difficult. But do make it a day of celebration. If you have small kids, dye eggs and have a good old fashioned Easter egg hunt. If you are alone, invite someone else who lives alone to eat with you via FaceTime or with the WhatsApp on your phone or Facebook Messenger. There’s many ways to connect face to face. Bless somebody!
The Whole Reason for the Easter Season
Now that we’ve got some of the practical things out of the way, let’s turn our eyes to the whole reason for the season. Let’s focus on what Jesus did and how His victory on the Cross thousands of years ago can answer why a good God would allow something so horrific as a pandemic to strangle our world.
I’ve heard that question a lot lately. However, I’d like to help us remember what God did for us that can never be undone. No pandemic, no financial crisis, no awful sickness can separate us from His love. Last week I wrote about God being with us. This week it’s really about God being for us.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God
is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32).
Easter Reminds Us God is For Us
In the verse above, God is the Greek word Theos which means “judge.” If we replace God for judge, it reads like this . . . “If the judge of the world is for us, who can be against us?” There are many names for God. I think it’s significant that Theos is used here and it is closely associated with the Hebrew name for God Elohim which means Creator.
Why would a God who invented spring rains and snowflakes, butterflies and sunsets, pour himself into a created body, climb up on the cross, die an undeserved death, and sacrifice himself for all mankind? Why would Theos, the God-Judge, choose not only himself, but his son, to take our punishment?
Because he loves us.
God chose his son to take our punishment to fulfill the law.
I wouldn’t give any of my children for the world. Maybe my life. But not my son’s.
But God did.
Because he loved the world (John 3:16).
Knowing this, makes it easier to envision a God who continually moves on our behalf in merciful and compassionate ways. It’s the little things that remind me of his goodness like a newborn’s toes, the taste of a ripe mango, and the way my hand fits perfectly into my husband’s.
It’s the small, daily blessings that remind me of the largest blessing of all . . . our eternity with Jesus.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God . . . . It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:18,30).
Theos determined to make a way for us to one day stand before his throne and live. Surely, if he would let his Son die on our behalf, he loves us. Awakening to the kind and gracious nature of this holy, righteous judge helps us trust him every day. He really is for us. Even when tragedy and crisis strike.
Romans 8: 37-39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Prompt: I think the only thing that can separate us from God’s love is our lack of trust. If we doubt His goodness and love we can’t receive it. But no disease or crisis has the power to do it. Pray for greater revelation of His love and a deeper trust in His goodness. When you “get it,” girl, you gonna be dangerous!
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Prompt: There is no judgment now for those in Christ. The New Covenant is unconditional because God not only satisfied the law, He provided the law of the Spirit. His Spirit dwells within us, and by His grace He transforms us. Stop trying! Start trusting. Spend the rest of your quiet time today listening to worship music and dancing to Him. Just worship.
Luke 23: 34
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
Prompt: The strength and control Jesus held on the Cross is mind boggling. He had been whipped, beaten, and a crown of thorns were crushed on His head. Yet He could push up long enough, nails through His wrists and feet, to say, “Father forgive them.” Write down anything in your journal you don’t feel like God can forgive you for doing. Then write, “Thank you for forgiving me.”
Matthew 27: 45-46
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
Prompt: Of all the scriptures, this one breaks my heart. It was the last piece of humanity Jesus would experience, feeling forsaken by God. Some people feel forsaken by God now. How does this scripture help us know we aren’t? Write it down.
Luke 23: 44-46
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Prompt: The curtain was torn into from top to bottom; the sun stopped shining, and the earth shook. Surely even creation mourned in that moment, but God Himself tore the curtain that symbolically separated man from God. Is God for you or against you? Write down your thoughts.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
Prompt: He’s risen. Death could not hold Him in the grave. Like Mary Magdalene, get up early one morning and meet the sunrise. God is faithful. He hasn’t missed a day yet. Go tell somebody. He’s alive.
I pray these words have been encouraging and filling. I also hope you can meet with us Wednesday night as I continue to answer this question of why God allows crisis and tragedies like we’re facing today.
Please remember, Jesus is alive! See ya next week.