We are a forgetful people. The other day, someone asked me how old I was and I told them the wrong age. I had a three second moment of panic where I couldn’t remember, and I blurted out the first number that came to mind.
Monday is perhaps the most forgetful day of the week. We live much of our lives with this escapist drive toward the weekend, thinking those two days will fulfill all of our needs and fantasies. More sleep! More time to work on those assignments! A chance to have clean pants again! Time with people I like! Time with God! Time with my good friends Leslie Knope & Ron Swanson!
Then Monday rolls around. “How was your weekend?” someone asks. My mind goes blank. “Church was...really good,” I mutter. “What was the sermon about?” And the Monday amnesia hits me like a cartoon anvil. I remember the peace I felt. I remember thinking, this sermon was written just for me! And yet, I cannot truly recall why it was so life-changing.
As Christians, we have spent the past few weeks in anticipation of Easter. We prepared our hearts. We reflected on the cross and its significance. We felt the long, heavy pause between Good Friday and Easter Sunday--waiting for the discovery of an empty grave and a risen Savior. And then it comes. He comes. And then it’s Monday.
A New Normal
The temptation is to treat Easter like it’s an ending. The eggs have all been found, Jesus is risen (*raised hands emoji*), we went to church, I can finally eat sugar/watch Netflix/go on social media again...and now it’s back to "normal life."
But nothing was normal after Jesus. Easter was a revolution. It was the day after which nothing was the same ever again. When a man who claims to be God rises from the dead, "business as usual" isn't a thing. From that day forward, you spend your entire life either affirming that he is risen or denying it. Easter isn’t just a time to pause and reflect on some nice truths we tend to forget about the rest of the year. It is the entire crux of our faith. It is the only reason we have to hope.
Perhaps you’ve been feeling the trudge of April. We are a third of the way through 2017, and maybe the “blank slate” you thought this year would bring has already been tainted with disappointments, mistakes, failures. Why do we think flipping a page on our calendars gives us the ability for a fresh start? From experience, I know a new year rarely brings the willpower needed to finally stick to that exercise routine I’ve been promising myself for the past five years. January 1st may bring with it the conviction that I need to love people better, but it never brings me the sustained ability to do so. January 2nd rolls around--and I’m still the same old me who couldn’t keep those resolutions last year.
A New Life
But Easter. If there was ever a time for significant life changes, it should be the Monday after. Because Easter isn’t an ending. It’s a beginning. It’s THE beginning, the fresh start all of our hearts long for. It isn’t about fluffy bunnies and pastel colors--it’s about the radical death, relentless love, and revolutionary power.
The cross, the empty grave, and the resurrected Jesus not only give us a reason to hope for change--they give us the power to change. Rather than us trying to change from our own efforts, the resurrection changes us.
In Romans 8, Paul reminds us: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
In 2 Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Easter Sunday is unlike any other Sunday. We come into the Monday after a changed people. Not because we finally got to catch up on sleep. Not because we feel shiny and new and different. Not because of what we have accomplished. But because of what was done on our behalf. Because Jesus’s resurrection gave us a new identity. My identity is not in the choices I make or what I accomplish, but in who Christ’s resurrection has made me to be.
A New People
The life of the disciples after meeting the resurrected Jesus reminds me of this. “On the evening of the first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” (John 20:19-20).
It was the first day of the week. The disciples had locked themselves away out of fear. Everything Jesus had taught, everything he had said or done...it all seemed like a distant memory now.
We see these disciples again in Acts 4, preaching to the Jewish leaders they had been hiding from. “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13).
Something happened in that locked room that radically transformed them from fearful, anxious men into witnesses that would not be silenced, would not be ashamed, would not stop sharing what Jesus had done--even at the cost of their own lives. They began to live, not out of who they were, but out of who the resurrection had made them to be. Their encounter with Christ was so ingrained into their hearts and minds that they never forgot it. It was the story they told, over and over again, for the rest of their lives.
The resurrection was everything for them. The cross was the death of everything they had hoped or believed was true. But it wasn't the end. It was the end of who they had been, and the beginning of who they truly were meant to be. When Jesus came back to life, they came alive.
As I sat on the floor at church yesterday, I closed my eyes and prayed, “Jesus, don’t let me forget. Please don’t let me forget.” Because I knew Monday was coming. It sounds strange, but my ambition is this: some Easter Sunday many years from now, I’ll be sitting in a corner watching my grandchildren running around, hunting for eggs. And someone will gesture in my direction, as if to ask, why does she look so happy? Then someone will shrug and reply, “That’s grandma. She’s not just like this on Easter, she’s like this every day. If you ask her why, she’ll say she met Jesus and that she’s never been the same.”