Why We Love Easter

unnamedThis blog was written by Chuck Swindoll

Why We Love Easter

But now Christ has been raised from the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:20, NASB)

The path of the pale horse snakes through a grim, dark valley. All attempts to remove the venom of death’s sting prove futile. Try as we may to steer clear of that pale path, we finally realize it’s inescapable. Like an uninvited guest at dinner, it shows up—always at inappropriate times—and there it stands, expecting to be seated and served. When it decides to return to its grim, dark valley, it never leaves alone; without asking permission, it takes someone we love with it. We grieve in its wake . . . our loss is palpable.

Not wanting to call the intruder by name, we seek less-offensive titles. No matter which we choose, each sends a chill down our spine: life’s final exit, an untimely end, the last roundup, the Grim Reaper, the grisly terror, one’s final hour, gone away, passed on, “journey’s end” (Shakespeare), “that dreamless sleep” (Byron), “the last enemy” (Paul), “the debt we all must pay” (Euripides).

If that marks the end of our existence, “we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19). Truth be told, that is the pitiable existence of most who lose their loved ones. Since they haven’t the one ingredient that could lift them above their grief, most folks get trampled beneath the hoofs of the pale horse. Their emptiness is reflected in Peggy Lee’s cynical song of yesteryear. In it she asks, “Is that all there is?”

No! A thousand times, No! That is not “all there is.” But in order for anyone to give such a bold answer, there must be that one ingredient I mentioned earlier. HOPE.

And what gives us this hope? The resurrection of Jesus!

Because He has been raised, death loses its sting. Listen to the hope in this magnificent promise: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).

Why do we love Easter? Because it reroutes the grim, dark valley of death, leading us onto a glorious highway of hope.

—Dr. Charles R. Swindoll, Chancellor Dallas Theological Seminary

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An Easter Confession

unnamedFor pastors like me, Easter can be too busy to worship. Well, we go to worship, lead it even, but the sit-down-get -your -personal-life-in-order-contemplative worship isn’t happening. It’s ironic, stupid even, but true. There’s extra services, extra set-up and tear-down for us portable folks, eggs to color and a special service to plan. Who has time for worship?

I stole the blog below from the department chair of Media Arts and Worship at Dallas Seminary. It was convicting for me, was hoping it could be helpful for you too.

Face-Time Worship

Jesus entered the temple area and began to drive out those who were selling and buying in the temple courts. . . . and he would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. (Mark 11:15–16, NET)

It’s the Monday before the cross. But Jesus isn’t frazzled, rushing about, desperate to get His house in order. Instead, He is calmly getting His Father’s house in order. For us. The Gentiles.

Jesus first encountered Gentiles in His home when wise men from the east arrived after a long journey by starlight to worship Him as a child. Now, in His Father’s house, those living on God’s doorstep had co-opted true worship by streamlining and commercializing the process.

Here, in the court of the Gentiles, worshipers purchased sacrificial animals without missing a beat. Facebook worship. Casual. Easy-breezy. Limp. “Friending” God doesn’t work. He requires face time.

But, then as now, time was in short supply—so those in charge of the facility (as I’m sure the spiritual bean-counters had come to regard it) created a shortcut through the court of the Gentiles lest marketplace shoppers be inconvenienced by having to walk around the temple. “Good for business,” we can hear them rationalize. “A way to consolidate commerce and communion. Besides, some of the shoppers may be seekers. A shortcut would at least get them close to the spiritual action.” But Jesus blows the whistle, stopping the hurly-burly traffic through the plaza dedicated to Gentile worship.

I feel Him tugging at my sleeve too. Because I sometimes regard worship as an interruption. Which is precisely what it is intended to be. An interruption of my soul-scorching pace. Real worship forces me to pause—to acknowledge that no amount of hurry will improve the odds that I will “win.” Speed doesn’t alter the fact that we are hurtling toward a spiritual dead end. It just gets us there faster. The velocity of authentic worship is as slow as starlight.

This Easter, let’s slow down. Let’s savor slow and contemplative worship.

—Dr. Reg Grant, Department Chair and Senior Professor of Media Arts and Worship