This Easter season is a different one for me. It’s the first time I’m away from my family, my church and my traditions that make the season complete. Leaving the country, I wasn’t anticipating struggling so much with missing home and family and friends… But I have. And when a holiday so valuable in our family comes up and I’m not with my loved ones to celebrate it – it’s hard!
But also, I see God’s hand in it all… He’s removed me from all that I know, in order to fully make me rely on Him… Interestingly enough, this whole journey began on the 28th of February. The Passover season began this year on the first of March. Coincidence? I think not.
Never before have I really experienced the Passover season. Jennifer Naraki wrote a beautiful book detailing a meaningful Passover experience and I’ve taken what I can out of it; reading when I can, doing what I can to learn more about this sacred time of year. It all began when I was sitting in the London Gatwick airport. It was 2am, there was nothing open and no one around shy of one little 24hr café. I sat there, with my flat white, talking to people at home. When everyone got busy and couldn’t talk anymore, I decided to pull up Jen’s book and start reading. Because it was 2am, I read the chapters for both the first and second of March… And here’s what hit me…
It was Ash Wednesday. Historically, in Hebrew times, people would mark themselves with ash while in mourning. It was a symbol of despair – the heaviest of burdens. In contrast, tradition spoke of oil being used for anointing in times of joy and celebration, worship and thankfulness. In Isaiah it is written “…bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. “ God takes our mourning, despair and sadness and in exchange gives us joy and life. This mourning, isn’t the typical mourning of a lost family member or sadness over a death or tragic event. As Christians, we mourn our lost hearts. We are sinners. Every time we sin our heart is separated from God. We cannot possible commune with one who is perfect when we are filthy. But as He promised in Isaiah, he exchanges it all. He loves us all so much to do that.
So sitting in the airport in London at 2 o’clock in the morning, I became overwhelmed with the love of Christ.
As Easter has drawn nearer, the pursuit of what this holiday really means to me has become apparent. In doing a study of the book of Ephesians, reading the books “You Are What You Love” by James K. A. Smith and “The Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis, and watching the favourite Easter movie “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” I came to more revelations. The first of which being… The devil is conniving. His plans are as twisted and underlying as evil plans can get. He will turn the tiniest of doubts into a massive attack on everything a person believes. It’s dangerous. Second – We are helpless without Jesus, completely and utterly hopeless and helpless. There IS NO WAY without Him. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe really illustrated God’s sacrifice for me… Take Edmund… The betrayer, the liar, the cheater, the selfish boy that no one likes. He turned on his family for selfish advances. Is he not every single one of us? He represents us as sinners, and as much as we don’t like it, it’s who we really are. Scary. But. In order to keep the family together, in order to fulfill the prophecy and save Narnia, Aslan gave his own life instead of Edmund’s. Um. What. Our views of justice and fairness and good and evil bombard us with thoughts like why was Edmund worth it? And would I have been able to make the same sacrifice? Truth is… Jesus took our place. We all deserve to die for the lies we’ve told, the hate we’ve spoken, those we’ve hurt and all the sins you can think of… But Grace.
God created us to be with him. He didn’t want us to die, he wanted us to live and worship him forever. And he LOVES us enough to send his son to die in our place. Through that sacrifice thousands of years ago, we now have free communication with God. Through Jesus we can talk to our Father, through Jesus we now live forever, and through Jesus we can LOVE God. By accepting this incredible gift, there is no way we can live without His love flowing through us. It goes in and then it must pour out. We must be carriers of His love. Show it to all. It’s our role as sons and daughters.
Where would we be without Jesus? Nowhere. And instead, now, nothing is holding us back. He redeems. I can’t even begin to get across the power of that word Redemption. He makes all things new. All things, all people, all circumstances, he has the power to redeem.
Jesus, thank you that we’re living in your Kingdom. Thank you for the way you’ve always loved me. Now I get to love you in return.