Today is traditionally the day when many across the globe arise early to attend an Easter Sunday service. Folks would typically travel to a place of worship, often dressed in bright colors, and gather together to celebrate the hope that Easter brings. This year will be different; the Covid19 virus separates family and friends from meeting – at a building. During this different set of circumstances, I began to look at the very first Easter, in a new way.
Easter can be celebrated anywhere
I was reminded this week that the first Easter did not occur in a cathedral, a synagogue or a sanctuary. The first Easter took place outside, next to a cave and a small group of ladies were the first people to celebrate.
In his diary, John Muir wrote, “Wherever we go in the mountains, or indeed in any of God’s wild fields, we find more than we seek.” The first Easter celebrants set out on their journey but did not find what they sought; they found much more.
While many will be streaming a worship service over the internet this Easter, let’s remember that the originator of Easter once told a woman at the well that worship is not meant for a specific place (John 4). Acts 17 reminds us that, “the God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.”
Jesus, the outdoorsman
The events leading up to and those immediately after the first Easter mostly occurred outdoors. A few exceptions included people hiding in their homes, the commotion inside the temple and of course the tomb.
Jesus seems to have been an avid outdoorsman. The settings for many of the stories about him are outdoors, including time spent at rivers, near and on lakes, fishing trips, on donkeys and while journeying (or hiking) from place to place. The nature of his mission included a lot of outdoor activity!
Did Jesus enjoy the outdoors? We know that He chose the outdoors for much of his teaching, healing, and connecting with the folks who had been forgotten. Jesus talked of how He cares for the sparrows and before the great flood, God chose to save the animals. God enjoys nature; after creating the earthly features that amaze us today, “He saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1)
Make your house a paradise
I began thinking about what happened between the crucifixion and the first Easter morning. I realized quickly, that understanding all of the details of this event are beyond my capability. But we can refer to the words spoken prior to His death when Jesus told a criminal that they would be together in paradise that same day (Luke 23:43).
While “trapped” in our homes this Easter, we can stream Easter services from local churches or from anywhere in the world. My wife and I watched an Easter service from Kenya today!
Because of technology, we can join together, fellowship, communicate and realize the common connections we have with one another. Technology also enables us to see webcams from places that we cannot visit at this time, such as Yellowstone and Yosemite. We can look at pictures of prior outings and celebrations. Many can look out a window, walk outside or hike a local trail. Let’s make the best of our current situation as we remember the first Easter and be thankful for its eternal impact.
On this day, we can’t forget about the importance and significance of blood. The blood of Christ Jesus was an offering of salvation to those who believe (John 3:16). Jesus gave his human life, to absolve humans from the death that sin brings. Physical death did not keep Him in the tomb, He rose from the dead on that Easter Sunday morning. He is risen indeed!
Today, if you are able, give some of your blood so that others may be physically saved. You’ll be confined to a bed as the nurse takes your blood, but within an hour or so you’ll be on your way – to shelter in your home.
To quote Andrew Paton (South Weymouth Church of the Nazarene) from a service streamed on Facebook Live this morning, “Now is not the time for fear. Now is not the time for despair, and now is not even the time for cabin fever. Now is the time for hope!”
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