Today is Easter. It’s the day that we Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ who died on a cross just a few days earlier. Of course it doesn’t just start and end with Easter. There is Lent, then Holy Week, and then at the end of all that we have Easter.
If you’re friends with other Christians I’m sure you’ve probably seen or heard people talk or post about what they’re reflecting on or giving up in preparation for Easter. At least that’s been my experience as we’ve approached this time of year. As we approach that time of year, if I’m honest I’m not feeling it too much this year.
It’s not that I have anything against the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. No, it’s more that I feel inadequate as I approach the day of celebration. That I haven’t reflected enough, that I haven’t given up enough, or that I just am not a good enough Christian to truly approach Easter the “right” way.
This isn’t helped when so much of your day is dealing with young kids. Trying to spend time with them, develop boundaries so they also are able to do things on their own, listen to them talk about the things that excite them or makes them giggle, figure out appropriate punishments for when they step out of line multiple times in a row, get them to eat more than yogurt, applesauce, and string cheese for every meal, and do other things they may not be so keen on doing.
Then once they’re actually down for the night you spend the last couple hours of your day trying to do whatever tasks you still have the energy, you wind up left with very little time for reflection. In the midst of this sometimes the idea of grace and forgiveness feels so far away. You wonder if you’ve reflected grace during the interactions with your children, your spouse, and anyone else who may have crossed your path that day.
Often, even if we have shown love, grace, and forgiveness, what I tend to remember are the times that I haven’t. The times where I lost my temper more than I should, where I second guess how I corrected my kids, when I said something I didn’t really mean that hurt my wife. These become the memories that I dwell on and I feel that forgiveness and grace is something that is so far from my grasp. Especially when it seems like everyone else is able to do the whole parenting thing and still have that time to reflect on what Jesus has done for us in his death and resurrection for at least seven days, if not all forty days of Lent.
Maybe what Easter celebrates is something that is never supposed to be too close or too comfortable. That no matter how hard we try, we’ll never be able to get this love, grace, and forgiveness thing down one hundred percent every day. That ultimately it’s not about us trying hard enough, meditating long enough, or giving up enough to merit the work of Jesus Christ, but that we are so far away from it all. Perhaps the very need to do these things is because we aren’t close to these things naturally.
Few of us have ever seen someone raise from the dead. I’m willing to bet that even fewer, if any, have seen someone raise from the dead days later. It’s something that is hard to wrap your head around and that’s not even all of what is celebrated at Easter.
The celebration is that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, has died for the sins of the people in this world, because He loves us. How do we get close to this reality on our own effort? Can we wrap our heads completely around that kind of love? I’m honestly not sure sometimes.
Maybe in all of this I’m closer to the reality of Easter than I thought. We celebrate a risen savior on Easter not because we deserve it through what we sacrifice for forty days, our reflections, or our attempts to be loving or obedient. We celebrate because the reality of Easter is that we don’t particularly deserve it and almost that it’s supposed to be a bit foreign to us.
We need the love, grace, and forgiveness of God, because it doesn’t come naturally to us. We need it more than once and even more than just once a year. Aren’t we all in the same place, trying hard to get closer to something that we can just never get close to on our own? Yet, God is still there inviting us to experience his love and grace and giving us the means to do so. Considering this, maybe it is a good thing that the realities behind Easter feel far away at times, it probably won’t make me feel like an inferior Christian at times, but we’ll take it one step at a time.