It may only be when delicate green appears on the trees or the first hints of color emerge from early spring flowers that we fully realize how barren it has been throughout the long winter.
Accustomed to cold and the limited hues of the past season, it is such a pleasant surprise to discover other colors again. Who isn't happy to see those first few brave yellow and purple crocuses reaching out from the ground? They seem to remind us that warm sunshine is on its way and the earth has not forgotten its promise of rebirth. It is no wonder then that Easter is celebrated during this same time, for it also represents new life - a resurrection from a slumbering or limited state of existence to one of light and vitality with limitless potential.
Today marks the holiest day for Christians. The earliest prophets and scriptures foretold of the wondrous event when Jesus Christ would come to break the bands of death and make everlasting life possible. This past week, Christians have reverently reflected how in the last days of his life and the crucifixion is when Christ paid the price for mankind's sins, showing mercy and the way to become spiritually clean and reunited with God. As depicted in many films and in scripture, this was not easy. From the mortal inheritance of his mother Mary, Christ felt pain. He bled in agony from every pore in the Garden of Gethsemane for the sins of all humanity and in anticipation of what was soon to come. This was a necessary step to satisfy the demands of justice, to pay the price for sin. Showing mercy, Christ was the only perfect one able to do this. From the immortal and heavenly inheritance of God, or Heavenly Father, Christ was able to rise from human death. This atonement is a gift for all mankind to one day overcome the grave and also be resurrected to enjoy eternal life.
The Christian holy day of Easter celebrates Christ’s resurrection as portrayed in “He is Risen” by artist Del Parson.
This greatest event in history does not end here however. Yes, people enjoy special dinners, egg hunts, and chocolate rabbits as part of their Easter traditions; all of which have ancient roots with both pagan and spiritual symbolism. For some it may be secular in nature; for others it may be in combination with religious observances. Regardless, according to Christianity, Easter is more than recognizing Christ's resurrection. It's about what one is doing with his or her life because of it. An article called, "The Mission and Ministry of Jesus Christ," by R. Nelson, highlights how people can personally honor Christ's atonement. Obviously, Christ's mission was the atonement. His ministry however was to be an example for how each individual should strive to act each and every day as stated in John with, "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done." As said in the article, these are not "suggestions," but rather "divine imperatives."
Love is the first "imperative," or example we need to emulate. Christ showed his love to his family, the sinner, his neighbor, and enemies. He did this primarily through service to others with his compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and charity. Beautifully stated in the article by R. Nelson is how this all begins with the family. "The deep love that binds parents to their children is forged by service to them throughout their period of total dependence. Later in life dutiful children may have the opportunity to reciprocate that love when they serve their aging parents." Most of all, love is shown by keeping the commandments. Partaking of ordinances is the next example to follow. Christ himself was baptized, showing that we all need to born again and be cleansed. Sacrament is another where Christians may renew their covenants. A third Christ-like example to emulate is the habit of prayer. Just as he prayed, we too are to communicate with God to know his will for our lives and be on the Lord's side. Knowledge, the fourth example to follow, includes seeking those things of eternal significance to lift our level of behavior and act on righteous principles. Christ, with knowledge of everything in the universe, focused on what was everlasting. Perhaps the most difficult to emulate is the example of endurance. Christ showed that we need to endure to the end by not giving up on worthy goals, staying true to the Lord, and most certainly to "cherish family relationships even through difficult days of disease, disability, or death."
Historically and today in the Christian faith, Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection. Christ's message was considered radical by many during his earthly ministry for he was never meant to be accepted as just a great teacher, but rather the Savior and anointed one as foretold in scripture to deliver mankind. Today is no different in that many choose to also reject Christ and rationalize worldly behaviors. Those so inclined to proselytize might consider one of the "10 Big Ideas" that can change "the way we work, live, pray, and play" as outlined in a recent edition of "Time Magazine." Making this list was to "Preach like your faith depends on it." With boldness, people can follow the commandment to teach all nations and as Peter once responded to Christ, "To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. We believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Faithful Christians might also say that not accepting this great truth does not change its reality. It's also the difference between a drab, lifeless winter and the delights and birth of spring.
Make it a good week, Mary