Easter is Super Bowl Sunday for Christians; only there is no question about who wins. Easter gives us bragging rights. “The leader of our religion is the only one who didn’t stay dead. He’s a live!” And there are plenty of implications that flow from that fact. Jesus is God. He defeated death and Satan. He fulfilled prophecy. We will live forever with him, etc.
All of that explains why Christians get a little wacky on Easter. Throw in the Easter Bunny, chocolate eggs and rabbits with candy eyes, spring flowers and fashions, and you have a spectacular cultural event.
I opted out of most of the celebration yesterday, except for sharing in my grandson’s joy as he showed me his Easter morning bounty, and gathering with my daughter and her family as we visited with them in Minnesota. (I originally wrote this last year.)
But I remember what a big deal it was when I was a pastor. I was always exhausted when the church part was over, and looked forward to the family portion of the day.
Now, I figure, to each, his own when it comes to expressing his faith, including celebrating Easter.
While driving east on I-94 (really, mostly south,) back toward Chicago, a web of thoughts was developing in my mind. As Patty napped in the passenger’s seat, I began thinking about what happens when the Easter party is over and the realities of Monday kick in. Also, I thought of Peter, because I always think about him when I think of Easter.
I am so thankful, that the Gospel writers included Peter’s less than stellar moments in their accounts. He was a bit of a doofus, and that’s great, because so am I. His most remembered doofus moment was when he told Jesus in front of the other apostles that he would never forsake him. Then, just a few hours later, he used some colorful metaphors to disavow his association with Jesus, to save his own hide.
Peter was the first one to enter the empty tomb. He was there on two different occasions. What he found did not bolster his faith; it just confused him. The resurrected Jesus told Mary to tell Peter what she has seen. Jesus singled him out.
About eight days later Jesus showed up again. Peter was out in a boat, fishing on the Sea of Galilee because he was a commercial fisherman. He hadn’t caught a thing, when Jesus hollered from shore, telling him to cast his net on the other side of the boat. Astonishingly, they caught the motherlode. When Peter realized it was Jesus on the shore, he abandoned ship, and his fellow fishermen, to swim to shore.
Jesus cooked breakfast (fish, of course) for the guys. It’s always fun when someone cooks for you.
Then he had a little one-on-one chat with Peter. It was an intense few moments, as Jesus repeatedly asked Peter if he loved him.
Two things were in play in that conversation: forgiveness and focus. Peter received his life mission from Jesus to feed his little lambs, i.e., pastor the infant church of Jerusalem, which he did. That was pretty good proof that he forgave him!
The Easter Monday message is the same as the Easter Sunday message. It goes with you from the party to plain old regular days that try our faith with their un-eventfulness, or their unforeseen and unwanted twists and turns.
The message: Quit doing worrying about your failures and trying to be good enough. It’s a waste of time and ignores what Jesus has done for you. Get on with showing his love to others and doing what he has put in you heart. Period.