Easter

This year, with the Coronavirus, we find ourselves in a very different type of Easter holiday. Most of us are away from our family, and so we won’t be having the traditional Easter dinner and gathering. It’s a very strange year, but in one way, it is a return to a more spiritual holiday. People who have little ones probably will have the candy, and maybe the traditional dinner, but those of us, who have family that don’t live with us, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren whether they live far away, or right here in the same city, can’t get together with our families. It is the hardest thing we have ever done, especially those with young grandchildren and great grandchildren. It is terrible hard not to hold them or kiss them. We are grateful for things like FaceTime, and telephone, but they are a very poor substitute for being there together.

That said, I think that a number of us who are at home…alone or in couples, and not planning to have a special meal, are taking a step backward and reflecting on this day separately from the meal and gathering. It is a unique opportunity to focus on the real reason for this day. to focus without all the meal prep, table setting, and clean up. What a strangely wonderful opportunity!! Strange…only because we are free focus completely on Jesus and what He did for us. Usually, we honor Him by going to church, and then we come home to the preparations for the gathering with family. Next year, that is what we will do again, and that is ok, but this year…with social distancing, is a rare “gift” that we won’t have again, and that is ok too, because we would rather spend this day with our loved ones. We would rather spend this day with our family, and honor our Saviour together, but that is not to be. We will all miss each other very much today, as we do any time we are apart. And when this is over…truly over, we will all have a special dinner…a type of redemption dinner, when we are redeemed for quarantine, and free to gather once again. Then we will come together and celebrate the victory over Coronavirus…victory that Jesus won for us when He died on the cross to save us from sin, sickness, and disease. The He rose again to tell us all the wonderful news. Happy Easter to all…alone together, the way it needs to be for now.

When I think of Easter, I immediately think of my Christian faith. I think of the miracle of salvation, and the willing sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The human race was in so much trouble. Sin had entered in and we were doomed. There was no way out, because the wages of sin is death and all has sinned. But God has a solution. Innocent blood must be shed to pay the price for all those who had sinned. There was not other way to reverse the curse that sin had brought sin the world.

The death of Jesus, on Good Friday, was a brutal one. As we know, humans have the ability to inflict horrible pain and wounds upon one another. Jesus was a man, but he was also God. He felt every brutal flogging, and endured every humiliation that was thrust upon him, and he did it knowing that it was vital. In fact it was the most important mission in history…past, present, and future. No single act would ever be more important, because the death on the cross was a “once for all” thing. His death reversed history. What the devil stole from the human race, Jesus returned.

When Jesus arose from the dead, three days later, our justification was complete. We could now go to Heaven, just by believing that Jesus had made that sacrifice for us, and accepting him as our Lord and Saviour. Such a simple way to receive eternal life, and yet, so many people refuse to receive, because they think they will have to give up their fun life. Little do they know what they are really giving up. This life is just a moment in time…Heaven is forever. The difference is stark. This life is fleeting and soon will be gone, but the next life will never end, and we can choose where we spend it, so we must choose wisely.

Many people celebrated with a big dinner, and Easter candy, and that is fine but people should never forget the real reason we celebrate Easter…the resurrection of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Jesus is risen!! He is alive!! Happy Easter everyone!!

Because my family has some history in England and Ireland, the history of that area holds an interest for me. Through my DNA, I have found out that much of the family I previously thought of as English, actually originated in France. Nevertheless, they spent the majority of the centuries in England and Ireland. That said, the feuds between the two nations have been as interesting to me as the Revolutionary War. I suppose that when a nation turns an area into a territory, and then that area decides to become it’s own nation, there can be a bit of an uproar…to put it mildly. The parent nation is usually very much against the independence of the child nation…for lack of a better word.

It was on April 24, 1916…Easter Monday, that the Irish Republican Brotherhood, which was a secret organization of Irish nationalists led by Patrick Pearse, launched the so-called Easter Rebellion in Dublin. It was an armed uprising against British rule. The Brotherhood was assisted by militant Irish socialists under James Connolly. Pearse and his fellow Republicans rioted and attacked British provincial government headquarters across Dublin and seized the Irish capital’s General Post Office. After their quick initial success, they proclaimed the independence of Ireland, and by morning they controlled much of the city of Dublin. They were fighting against the repressive government of the United Kingdom that they had been under for centuries. Their hopes of freedom were dashed later the next day when the British authorities launched a counterattack. By April 29th, it was all over. The uprising had been crushed. Nevertheless, the Easter Rebellion is considered a significant marker on the road to establishing an independent Irish republic.

Following the uprising, Pearse and 14 other nationalist leaders were executed for their participation, but they were held up as martyrs by many in Ireland. There was a lot of anger among most Irish people for the British, who had enacted a series of harsh anti-Catholic restrictions, the Penal Laws, in the 18th century, and then let 1.5 million Irish starve during the Potato Famine of 1845-1848. Armed protest continued after the Easter Rebellion and in 1921, 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties won independence with the declaration of the Irish Free State. The Free State became an independent republic in 1949. However, six northeastern counties of the Emerald Isle remained part of the United Kingdom. This prompted some nationalists to reorganize themselves into the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to continue their struggle for full Irish independence.

In the late 1960s, spurred on in part by the United States civil rights movement, Catholics in Northern Ireland, who had long been discriminated against by British policies that favored Irish Protestants, advocated for justice. Riots broke out between Catholics and Protestants in the region and the violence escalated as the pro-Catholic IRA battled British troops. Most people have heard about this struggle over the years. An ongoing series of terrorist bombings and attacks ensued in a drawn-out conflict that came to be known as “The Troubles.” Peace talks eventually took place throughout the mid to late 1990s, but a permanent end to the violence remained elusive, until July 2005, when IRA finally announced that its members would give up all their weapons and would pursue the group’s objectives solely through peaceful means. By the fall of 2006, the Independent Monitoring Commission reported that the IRA’s military campaign to end British rule was over.

JesusI read yesterday that Earth’s saddest day and it’s happiest day are just three days apart. That is truly one of the most profound statements ever written. On Good Friday, Jesus had to die to take away the sins of the world, and today, Easter Sunday, just three days later, He rose from the dead triumphant, having paid the debt that the world could not pay. The one act was the most amazing act in the history of Earth. It was a selfless act of a loving Saviour. He knew it would be painful and he knew he would have to endure separation from His Father, and yet he chose to do it anyway, because he knew that the people of Earth had no other way out of the horrible mess they were in. Now, every year we honor Jesus, because He loved us so much that he gave up his life for us. We also live every day looking forward to the day when we will live in Heaven with Him forever. On this…Resurrection Sunday, I honor Jesus, my Lord and Saviour.

For many of us getting caught up in the whole Easter Bunny thing is all there is to it, but it shouldn’t be. Today also needs to be a day of reflection on all that our loving God did for us when He made a plan to save us from eternal damnation. Lately, I have been thinking about just how temporary this life is. When we are young, it seems like we have so much time left, but as we get older, we understand that this is not our home. Heaven is our home. We are travelers here, on our journey to eternity. We can choose were we will spend that eternity…Heaven or Hell. If we decide that we don’t want to be in Hell, then we have to make Jesus the Lord of our life. CrossIt is that simple. Jesus said to him in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Not everyone agrees with me on this, I’m sure, and that is their right. God gives each of us the right to decide which side we will choose…Heaven or Hell, but it is His hope that each of us will choose, Heaven…life…Jesus. The Bible says in Joshua 24:15, “But if it seems wrong in your opinion to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Choose the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But my family and I will serve the Lord.” It is your choice, and I pray that you will choose Jesus! Then, Heaven will be your home.

JesusEvery Easter families gather together to eat a big meal and enjoy each other’s company. Most of us use just about any excuse to have a huge meal filled with all the best dishes we can think of. The meal often consists of ham and brisket at our house. And of course, what Easter dinner would be complete without eggs in some form…usually for breakfast and dinner. All those eggs the kids colored had to be used in some way, after all. In our family, the eggs are called angel eggs, because for obvious reasons, we don’t like the term deviled eggs. I really don’t want the devil involved in anything in my family…even the eggs.

But, more importantly, as Christians, we come together to remember the sacrifice our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ made to save us from our sins. We were in a horrible mess. We had all sinned, and there was no way out of going to Hell…not that we could manage anyway. Nevertheless, God is a loving God, and His children really are His life. He devised a plan to save us from the mess we were in. He sent his son, Jesus, who left His home in Heaven to come to earth, as a man, to live a sinless life, and then to die on the cross anyway, because it was the only way out for us. A sinless man had to die to pay the price for a world of sinners.

I saw a post yesterday on Facebook with the message, “Friday happened, but Sunday is coming.” That is so true. There is nothing we can do about the fact that our sins caused the Crossneed for a Saviour, Jesus to come and die to save us. That is in the past, but our future is eternal in Heaven, because of the selfless act of our Saviour. It is God’s love, grace and mercy toward his children that allows us to walk away from the punishment we all deserved, and live forever with Him. We can never thank Him enough for sending His Son. We can never thank Jesus enough for choosing to come and die in our place. All we can do now is rejoice!! Friday happened, but Sunday came three days later, because God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son!! Jesus willingly paid the price, defeated the devil, and the rose again to proclaim that victory!! Sunday is here!! He is risen!!! Jesus is alive!! Rejoice!!

I think all kids love to color Easter eggs. Maybe it is the chance to get creative in a way that most parents won’t normally allow. I mean…how many parents want to turn their kids loose with colored water very often. That could be an accident waiting to happen. Nevertheless, every year, we get everything ready, and set our kids up to potentially make a huge mess, and hope that it doesn’t happen.

I always liked to color Easter eggs as a kid. Back then, of course, they didn’t have all the cool stuff they have now. We had mostly just the colored water and a clear crayon…and later the little stickers or egg tattoos. Then they started coming up with really cool things like speckled eggs, glitter eggs, neon eggs, and tie dyed eggs. There was something new every year, and of course, every parent made sure their kids had all the new stuff.

Since, my girls are grown now, I have been out of the egg coloring era for quite some time, so who knows what they have now. And it doesn’t really matter anyway, because the whole idea is to watch the excited faces as the little ones get to start coloring their eggs, and then sharing in their creations. And when kids are little, they don’t really care whether or not they have all the very latest stuff anyway.

Of course, all this led up to the next morning when they got to find their Easter baskets, put on their new Easter outfits, and go to church to remember the real reason we celebrate Easter, being thankful for the sacrifice made by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, because, lets face it, we are lost without him. His death put a sinful world back in right standing with God!! We are so very blessed, and there is reason to celebrate…He is risen!!! Happy Easter to all!!

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