easter people

One of my coworkers, a friend, a wonderful man, died this week.

In his sleep.  Sudden and unexpected.

Just like that.

Another friend’s brother died this week.  Expected but sooner than anticipated.

Shock, Sadness. Grief. Loss.

That sense of disbelief,  that this can not be real, but it is oh so real.

My friend, Judy, made this observation.

“We do not grieve as those with no hope¹.  We are Easter people.”

Easter people.  I like that.  This week of all weeks – being Easter people makes a difference.

This week, Holy Week, we remember the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ.

What it means for us who follow Jesus is that there is life after death.  His resurrection makes it so.  We have this hope of being together again because of what Jesus accomplished for us.

Of this world of life after death, God says,

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.

easter lilies against blue sky

The sin we see, the sin we do, the sin around us in every form will be gone. The life promised to us will be in its full form.  And we will be transformed in the holy presence of our incomparable King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. we have this hope. We celebrate Him this weekend, the One who loved us so much, He would lay down His own life to save us.

We are not only forgiven now; we will be reunited with those we love who also trust Jesus. In the face of death, we grieve our losses of beloved ones, and we rejoice that they have entered His presence. We will see them again in that glorious place at the time of God’s choosing.

We have hope.

We are Easter people.

¹I Thessalonians 4:13-18

oh those bells!

     When I was growing up, we lived two doors from a church.  We lived in its shadow, literally and figuratively.  Holy Week was very solemn, focused on the sufferings of Christ. There was no running around or yelling or loud anything.

On Holy Thursday, we had a service and then the altar would be stripped bare.  All linens, candles, any adornments of any kind were removed.  And there was silence.

No bells were rung, nor music of any type played or sung.

No television or radio in our house.

On Good Friday morning,the church was open, and people would come to meditate on the passion of Christ and worship. We remembered Christ’s journey to the Cross later in the day.

The silence and the starkness are what I remember most. The church, dark, quiet, a tribute to the sufferings of Jesus, was such a change from bells ringing three or four times a day, people laughing and chatting after a service.

On those days, there was no talking, no laughter, only the sobering thought of Jesus dying on the cross.

On Saturday, still silent.  Now in the church was a statue of Jesus in his death, arranged as if in a tomb filled with flowers, beneath the altar.  The fragrance of hyacinths and lilies filled the air.

By Kor!An (Корзун Андрей) (Own work)

Then, Sunday morning, we woke up while it was still dark, got dressed in all our Easter finery- hats, gloves, patent leather shoes.  My dad made each of us a corsage (it was the custom at the time).  And we went to church for six o’clock Mass.

Nothing, oh nothing, can thrill my soul like what happened next. I would just be holding my breath in anticipation. The priest would intone the first line of this one Polish hymn….and all the church bells started ringing , the organ swelled and the choir & congregation burst into the rest of the song.  The silence ended; music restored.

When I think of the Resurrection, I have to think that in heaven that day when Jesus arose from the grave, that bells were ringing, angels singing, in ways we can’t even imagine.

Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed.

That is one of my favorite moments of Easters past.  What memories of Easter do you cherish most?