I will not let go of Easter. More properly, I affirm that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is not something that I will celebrate and remember on one day of the year. In the Reformed faith, that is in the Protestant faith of Martin Luther and John Calvin and John Knox, the “high holy days” of the old Roman church were replaced with an understanding that each and every Lord’s Day is a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every Sunday is Easter. What does that mean to us?
I was orphaned and adopted by my father’s sister, Aunt Eva Turner. I owe so much to her. If there is anything of good about me or my ministry, I assure you – and I mean this with every fiber of my being – it must have came through her. You see, I believe in prayer more than I believe in genetics. I believe in an environment of love and hope and Christ more than I believe in a destiny determined by my bloodline. I thank God that His power can overcome the demonic strongholds that come into people’s lives. If it were the other way around, I would be a castaway, or in prison, or worse. But God gave me Aunt Eva and I heard about Jesus from her. When my Aunt Eva fell ill, at almost 99 years of age, I watched her decline in just a few days until she died. I will never forget being there at her bedside and knowing that her spirit had left this place and was with Jesus Christ. I felt that a part of me was there. In a real way, I felt that she was free.
I read a story this week about a Christian woman was in much worse shape than my Aunt Eva was when she died. This older woman was confined to a bed in a nursing home. In order to keep her from falling out of bed, they strapped her in. Above her bed there was a sign that read, “This patient must be restrained at all times.” This broke her dear daughter’s heart. And every time her daughter went to see her she wept as she saw that sign. She cried as her mother pleaded with her to untie the straps and set her free. One day her daughter was called in. “Your mother died.” When she walked into the room and saw her mother’s body there, as a believer, she knew the truth: her mother was not there. She was with Jesus. The first thing she did, then, when she saw her was to run and rip that detestable sign off of the wall, tear it up, throw it away and say, “Thank God, she is free at last!” (Leighton Farrell, Cries from the Cross [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994], p. 95.)
I will not let go of Easter. Not yet. Not until the detestable graves are emptied of their sacred contents, not until the last tear has been shed, not until the vestige of sickness and disease and sorrow and affliction has been done away with. Not until Jesus comes. And then I will go into eternity with “He is risen” on my lips.
But thank God, the Resurrection of Jesus tells us that something is afoot. There is a new way of life that is taking over. The last enemy, death, will soon be destroyed. But for now, the fear, the sign above our heads that restrains us and holds us back and takes the joy of living away from us, has been ripped away.
Thank God, we are free at last.