The month of April each year is made up of an interesting mix of days. The very first day of April starts with a joke as the tradition is to try to fool someone with what today some would call “fake news.” We start the month with “April Fool’s Day.” From that start, the mix only gets more interesting.
Did you know, for example, that almost every year March Madness ends in April?
For most school systems Spring Break comes early in April. And in our part of the country, it is time for the Master’s to be played in Augusta, as well as spring games for our favorite college football team and the first pitch of the Major League Baseball season.
By the middle of the month, it is safe to plant the annual flowers in your yard. And, of course, the middle of April brings the deadline for filing your income tax. This year we do get three days of grace as the deadline falls on April 18. And in all this mix of dates, most years, as this year, the great day for those of us who believe in Jesus Christ occurs. We call this day Easter or Resurrection Sunday.
I know this column is typically in the Living Section and not the Religious Section. But old habits are hard to break. You can’t spend more than a half of a century in the Christian ministry and just pretend that Easter is not a very special, important and holy day.
This is the day, for many of us, that declares the greatest news in history. Death has been defeated, He is alive. Life is much like April with a crazy mixture of dates. Some filled with goodness and others are a struggle. But Easter reminds us to remember what that last word will be.
I invite you to turn to the 20th chapter of John to read of that first Easter. You may be surprised to find everybody seems to be missing the point, by jumping the gun. Is that not also true of our world as well. We get lost in some of the traditions of the Easter seasons such as Egg Hunts and fashions for the spring and forget the reason for the day.
That first Easter Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and seeing the stone removed, assumed that someone had taken the body. Too many times we miss something good by assuming something bad. Easter reminds us that today is not the final word, but God has a new sunrise waiting for us all.
We may live in a world where expressways crash, and where terror stalks the world. But Easter comes as a reminder that the last word will be God’s word. And even in the darkest moment, there is hope.
Mary ran to find Simon, Peter and the other disciples to share the news as well as her fear of not knowing where the body might be. Peter and another disciple raced to investigate. They found the courage to enter the tomb. But again they missed for the time being the miracle that had occurred. They went back home after seeing what Mary had said was true, the body was gone.
The story turns when in the garden Mary encounters Jesus, whom she thinks is the gardener and only when he calls her by name does she believe. The joy of Easter is only understood when we know Jesus. When we know that he knows us and loves us, then the full impact comes to your heart.
As the old hymn says, “I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and tells me I am his own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”
My prayer for our readers is that this Easter you might experience the hope and joy of the grace that comes with Easter. Whatever tomorrow may bring us, the last word will be the Good News that is God’s word!
B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington.