8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.
9 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Matthew 28:8, 9 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
Have you ever noticed that Easter sort of gets a raw deal? I mean, after all, we spend weeks getting ready for Christmas and celebrate the stew out of that holiday. In comparison, the way we treat Easter seems like an afterthought.
But the older I get, the more I love Easter. It really is a relatively stress-free time for me. On Saturday we’ll dye some eggs (even though my sons are nearly grown), and on Easter we’ll probably have something new to wear. I’ll get to preach about the most wonderful day in history, and then we’ll have a potluck dinner. It’s all the joy with none of the fuss.
But mostly, as I grow older, I’m loving Easter more because of what it means. With every passing year, I have more friends and loved ones who go to be with the Lord. And I never stop missing them. I think that’s okay—in fact I intend to grieve for them just a tiny bit as long as I live. They deserve that much for the love they shared with me when they were present in this life.
And you see, it’s Easter that makes that tiny constant ache in my heart worthwhile. People who don’t know the Lord have to be content with remembering their loved ones in the past. But for a Christian, the pain of loss is always mingled with the sure hope that we’ll receive them again on the Last Day. Easter turns our grief into longing, and our longing into joyful hope.
Every year there is some newcomer to our congregation who suggests we have a sunrise service at Antioch. I always tell these well-meaning saints that such a plan would never work for our congregation. For heaven’s sake, our members have trouble getting to Sunday School at 10:00 AM! Besides, I always explain (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) that you never see anything like a sunrise service in the Gospels on the first Easter Sunday. When the sun is coming up, we read about all those women and the disciples running around in the dark trying to figure out what happened because of the empty tomb. It’s not until much later that day that the Gospels tell us about a prayer meeting.
Today’s Scripture text (at the top) tells us that when all of those people who are looking for Jesus finally find Him on that happy morning, He has a single word for them: “Rejoice!” On the first Easter, that was the first word: “Rejoice!” You know what? I’ll bet you that “rejoice” is going to be the first word on the day we enter the Heavenly Kingdom, too. Just the thought of that makes today, and every day, and an occasion for joy.
So, mamas, take time to “rejoice” with your babies today. That’s the first word on Easter. It’s the final word, too. Christ is risen, indeed. Alleluia. Have a wonderful day.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is in the middle of his 25th year of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 18) and Seth (age 15) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where we have Easter “Dinner on the Grounds” today.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to email@example.com.