The Importance of Easter
May God fill you with hope on this Easter Sunday.
Easter Sunday is the most important day of the year for many Christians. It may not be the most fun day. It is not like Christmas. During Christmas, we see bright lights, sing carols, and exchange gifts. Easter is not like that but it is the most meaningful and important day. Easter is the season of welcoming new life. Long winter is now almost over and spring is on the way. Flowers are budding. New life is beginning.
We are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Not only the resurrection of Jesus Christ we celebrate, we also celebrate the resurrection of ourselves.
This is what St. Paul said.
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)
There is the Spirit within us. That is the same Spirit who raised Jesus. That Spirit will raise us too. So we celebrate our own resurrection too. Death will not be the end. Knowing that is wonderful. This gives us hope. We have hope for the new world and new life.
This is what John saw in his vision.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more…he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’ (Revelation 21:1, 4)
Today, Isaiah also shared with us what he saw.
For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice for ever
in what I am creating; (Isaiah 65:17, 18)
They both saw this wonderful vision, the vision of new world and new life. But they saw this wonderful vision, not necessarily because their life was easy and promising. They didn’t write this in a beautiful luxurious South American resort where you can see mountain, forest, and the ocean. John wrote his vision in the midst of persecution. Their friends were killed because of their beliefs. There were a lot of temptations of losing their faith because of persecution and false teachings.
Isaiah wrote this piece for the Israelites who came back from the Babylonian captivity. They came back home but the home wasn’t really heaven. It was home that was ruined. The temple was destroyed. They lost their passion for God.
Their reality was harsh. What they saw was not pretty. They were devastated.
The Power of Faith and Hope
People had a lot of questions about God. If God were real, why didn’t God protect us from being captivated? If God really loved us, why did we go through this kind of hardship? What happened to God’s promise? Is God real?
It is in this context that both John and Isaiah wrote these beautiful words. In the gloomy reality, they saw the possibility of their future. Surrounded by negative things in life, they saw something positive, something hopeful, and something beautiful. That is wonderful. THAT IS THE POWER OF FAITH AND THE POWER OF HOPE. The power of faith and hope allows you to be able to see something beautiful no matter how difficult life may be. They didn’t allow their circumstances to blind them, dictate them, and victimize them.
Through the eyes of faith and hope, they saw light in the midst of darkness. They didn’t define their reality only as being miserable and unbearable.
I think that is the wisdom, the wisdom of life. The wisdom is to see both sides of our reality. Our reality is both good and bad. Our reality is both beautiful and can be ugly. Our reality is both bright and dark. The wisdom is to see beautiful things in life instead of seeing only ugly things.
You can choose to see only dark side of life. A lot of people do that. It’s your choice. But be prepared. If you choose to see only dark and negative things in life, you will get swept away by the darkness of life. They will damage your soul. You will become cynical and critical. Many people have this distorted understanding of life. What is good is not real. What is bad is real and what is good is just fantasy. Because we see so many bad things.
Life Amidst Death
Yes, our reality can be cruel and scary. We see that in what’s happening in Ukraine. We see that very clearly during this global pandemic. We also see it right where we live. House price is going up so much that many people cannot even think of buying a house. The interest rate is going up. Reality can be cruel and scary.
Just the other day, I was walking and I experienced gun shot right beside me. It wasn’t a targeted shot. It wasn’t gang related. This guy just shot a stranger, no motive. The person who was shot died. Then in 48 hours later, he shot another stranger. This guy shot two “completely innocent” men just going about their lives. It could be very much me. My heart was pounding and my ears were ringing because of the sound of the shot. My legs were shaky.
Yes, our reality can be scary and harsh. But my friends, there is a beautiful side of our life. You need more effort to discover that. You need faith and hope to see that. That’s what Easter is all about. That’s what resurrection is all about. We see life in the midst of death.
Hope in a good situation is not really hope. Hope is the power you have when you see nothing going for you.
I see some people living with hope in a very difficult situation. This hope keeps them strong and keeps them going. To them this hope is real. Don’t tell me that what they have is just fantasy. Don’t tell me that they are just fooling themselves. Don’t tell me that they are just living with a wishful thinking. Hope is for them the greatest power they have. Hope that they have is as real as anything. That’s what keeps them going. That hope will save them.
Hope is God’s Gift
Hope is not what you decide to have. Hope is God’s gift for you. John and Isaiah did not write what they wished to have. THEY WERE GIVEN THIS VISION. What they saw was not just psychological manipulation. It was a spiritual experience they had.
Through their spiritual eyes, they were able to see HOPEFUL REALITY in all the negative things they saw. It was like finding a flower in the ashes. It is like finding treasure hidden in the mud. They experienced long nights of struggle but they saw that the morning would come. That is the beauty of life. That was what our choir sang beautifully today.
Hear the music of the morning, rising with the sun. Light has come to fill the darkness, now the night is done. So let us take time to pause, take time to pray, And pray to God, who made us, God, who made the day.
Spiritual people do not see only ashes or mud in life. They see treasure in life. They not only see fights and wars. They see harmony where nobody hurts each other.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain, (Isaiah 65:25)
They not only see futility of life. They see abundance and blessings.
They shall not labour in vain,
or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord—
and their descendants as well. (Isaiah 65:23)
My friends, I know life is hard. I know you are all struggling. Many of you feel that you are stuck in a rut. You do the same old things. You are not getting anywhere. Instead of doing something meaningful and moving towards your goal, your life seems to go nowhere.
But your life can change. Let your faith and hope work in your life. Ask God to help you. God is right there ready to help you.
That was what Isaiah said.
Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24)
God will help you. With God’s help, you will see the hopeful reality. You will discover life filled with laughter, confidence, courage, passion for life, and deep satisfaction.
That’s what Easter is all about.