Christmas and Easter are the big holidays in the Christian church, and they are big in culture, too. In the Church, the preparation time for the two is basically the same: for Christmas we call the preparation Advent (four Sundays before Christmas), and for Easter we call it Lent (40 days before Easter). In our American culture, Christmas has a much longer lead-in – I think it’s right after the 4th of July. Just kidding. I think it’s actually after Halloween. Whatever, the point is, there is lead time for both. And both holidays have long lead-ins, but then they are quickly over.
I have before lamented how quickly Christmas is put away. The gifts are unwrapped, and out with the trash go the wrapping paper, the scraps from the food, but also, often, all the decorations and the Message. And this year, as we come to the week after Easter, I lament how quickly Easter goes away.
I don’t miss the bunnies and the eggs. But the Message? The Good News? That can’t go away! We are a resurrection people, our identity is not infused with the Message of Easter, it IS the Message! The proclamation of the angel that synthesizes the Message was simple – “He is not here. He is Risen, just as He said.” The implications of that statement have been the proclaimed Message ever since.
And today, a week after Easter? Well, we remember the events after the resurrection. Jesus stuck around for a long time, and visited with a lot of people. He surprised a lot of people by simply visiting with them when they really didn’t expect it. (I confess to you, if I had been Jesus, I would have gone to Pilate, stood right in front of him and said “Boo!” and freaked him out. Jesus, of course, is loving, compassionate, and good. Me? Not as much).
I think that the most important remark from any disciple or person following Jesus came from the disciple Thomas. Thomas is remembered by a lot of us as “Doubting Thomas.” We remember him for being reticent to embrace the Message till seeing Him personally.
But here’s the thing. When he did see Jesus, when Jesus availed his wounded hands and feet to him to touch and ponder, Thomas’ response was the response that God wants from every one of us who have received the Message of the angels: “He is not here, He is risen, just as He said.” What did Thomas respond when he saw that it was true? He looked at Jesus and said “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28)
No self-respecting Jew would call a human God. A Roman might. But not a Jew. That would be blasphemous. That’s why they killed Jesus. But Thomas went ahead and said it and believed it with every inch of his being. In doing so he became the first of every disciple ever since to recognize the risen Jesus as Lord of our lives, and God incarnate. He shouldn’t be remembered as Doubting Thomas. He should be remembered as Thomas the First.
And me? I’m just disciple number gazillion and three to say it too: Jesus is my Lord and my Savior, and my God. You?
Holding on to Easter,
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” Romans 10:9-11