Tuesday, March 17, 2009
THE REASON FOR THE SEASON - Robert Scott
As this entry is published, it is twenty-five days until Good Friday. We are approaching the most important festival of the Church year.
Some may wish to challenge me on this point but I believe that, were it not for the events of Easter, the rest of what we do would be senseless and empty.
Certainly, Christmas gets the most attention from the secular world. There are more special programs on television. The community seems to become more involved in the events leading up to the Nativity. That has been true, at least, in the nine or ten communities where I have lived in my church career. SEARS does not put out a Spring edition of the Wish Book.
What we do at Easter is something that no other faith community can do. We celebrate an empty grave.
Let's not have any foolish talk about grave-robbing followers, a swooning Jesus who rolled back the stone after he recovered from a pain-induced faint, or any of the other fantastic theories that eliminate the possibility of the intervention of God, the Resurrection of a Saviour, and the salvation of all who put their faith in Him alone.
Christians, of all the so-called 'faith communities' of the world, are the only people on earth who do not have a grave where the mortal remains of the object of their worship lie. We can thank God for that. Because of what the empty grave signifies, we should be a people who reverence this season more than any other. Without the Resurrection, Christmas is just another, elaborate baby shower. Without the Easter reality, there is no reason to gather as the community of faith to worship.
If Jesus did not die for the express purpose of taking away our sins; if he did not rise again to demonstrate that God has the power to do such a thing; if Jesus is just another 'guru' with a new way to express belief in 'a higher power' that could be just about anything you choose to call 'god', then we would be better off following our favourite author in the 'Self-Help' shelves of our local book store.
Somebody has got to say this. It might as well be me. We are wretched sinners—all of us. We deserve eternal separation from God. We are supremely bad people, no matter what the 'feel good' proponents tell us. Folks who can't stand to hear that they are sinners are making those folks rich.
With regard to our relationship with God, we messed up pretty badly. Read Genesis to get your first inkling of how bad things went just shortly after the creation. The Bible is full of stories about bad people and the account of the life of one divinely good one.
We may do 'good' things. We might not have intentionally hurt anyone. At least, we have not heard many complaints about our behaviour. But, God looks at it differently. He said that the penalty of eternal separation was what we deserved for our disobedience.
Like a loving parent, though, He wanted to bestow His grace upon his Creation. Someone else took your place and mine. Someone else experienced what it would be like to have the Heavenly Father turn his back and just walk away. At the moment that Jesus cried out, “… why have you forsaken me?” he was feeling that abandonment that should have been the outcome for us all.
Easter is a happy occasion for Christians because God demonstrates His love for us. Jesus came to take away the fear of a vengeful god. Christ died on the Cross, took our sins, bore our shame, and experienced the penalty for our sins. And finally, and gloriously, He rose again. And he has commissioned us to spread the good news.
He is risen indeed!
Robert Scott is a pastor and the author of ADVERTISING MURDER, LOST YOUTH and MURDER EXPRESS, titles in the Jack Elton Mystery series, Published by AVALON Books, New York, N.Y.
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