Life After Easter
By Elisa Morgan
Life events occur – amazing moments we look forward to with hope and immense anticipation – and after, we move on. We graduate from high school amidst great pomp and circumstance and a few days later we plunge into a search for a summer job and what’s next. We look forward to marriage with tulle and icing and shiny hopes and the week after the event, we’re brushing our teeth while staring at each other in the bathroom mirror – numb to the reality that a miraculous union has just been born. We check the baby app on our phones for 9 months, straining to measure an embryo by the size of various fruits and vegetables and then one day plop! – the little one is here and off we run for the next twenty years or so. We throw a party and the next day we forget what it was we were celebrating as we speed up and merge back into the flow of the rest of life. Easter celebrates the miraculous resurrection of Jesus. But what does life after Easter look like? What difference does Easter make in our every day lives? We moved through Palm Sunday – cheering Jesus at the height of his ministry – watching as the crowds seem to finally understand who he is – the Son of God, the Messiah. We wave our palm branches and cry Hosana, Hail the King of the Jews! And as if we’re re-reading a favorite novel with a tragic ending, we follow along yearning that maybe this time the story will turn out differently. Judas won’t betray. The disciples won’t fall asleep as Jesus prays in agony. The crowds won’t turn against him. Pilate won’t release Barabbas instead of Jesus. The soldiers will rebel and refuse to lift the hammer against the nail. As the sun of Good Friday moves high in the sky and darkness eerily descends, we are dumbfounded in grief at the thought of Jesus’ body nailed to a cross because of our sins. He dips his head under our heaviness, cut off from his Father and ours, and dies. His body is taken to a cave-like tomb and sealed within. The wait begins as we imagine the darkness of such a death. Easter morning breaks, bringing hope with the sunrise. Good news: He is risen! We echo, He is risen indeed! In our shiny Sunday-best, we slide eggs in baskets and roasts in ovens and bodies in pews (whether physically or online) as we celebrate. He is risen! And then comes the week after Easter. We’re back at the computer turning over and over that same personnel issue. The stack of bills from a week ago remains the stack of bills for today – with a few more added on top. Our teen once again snarls, “I don’t know when I’ll be home” while heading out the door. Our dad still struggles with cancer. Our womb is still empty. Why? Why does it seem Jesus is risen only on Easter Sunday and not the Monday after, much less today too? On the first Easter morning, a group of women made their way to the tomb to care for Jesus’ body. They were stunned to find his body gone, the tomb empty. An angel appeared, offering a heart-rearranging question, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:5-6). Ahhh. Here’s how life after Easter is meant to look – not like death. No, like life. How is life after Easter different because of Easter? In the dramatic, crisis times of life but also in the every day? What would it mean for us to live – every day - as if Jesus is alive? The significant milestones of Holy Week pass and we paused to consider Jesus’ journey to the cross and all that journey provides for us. On Easter Sunday we celebrated the great miracle of life conquering death. In this week after Easter, we need help. We need hope. We need a faith that is real and makes a difference in the decisions before us, in the kids we’re raising, in the relationships we’re growing, in the jobs we’re holding, in the doubts we’re facing, in the diseases we’re carrying, in the bills we’re juggling, in the wounds we’re bearing. When you go for help you may find yourself at the tomb – looking for Jesus in the spot you last saw him – in the place where “death” took him down, and you with him. Well go there if you have to – but when you get there – remember a few other words God has for us:
I have loved you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Joshua 1:5)
For I am convinced that neither death nor life…will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
I will complete the good work I have begun in you. (Philippians 1:6)
Don’t look for the living among the dead. Live like Jesus is alive. Because he is – even as we remember his death.
Elisa Morgan is the cohost of the new podcast, God Hears Her. She is also the cohost of Discover the Word and contributor to Our Daily Bread. Her latest book is When We Pray Like Jesus. Her other books include The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, and She Did What She Could. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, and @elisamorganauthor on Facebook and Instagram.