I woke Easter morning with a song in my head: “Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia! Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia! Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia! Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!” It is my favorite Easter song, and I love to sing it. I was eager to get to church to sing it with the choir. I find Easter to be such a happy, joyful day.
So I was taken aback by my response when we began to sing the song in church. I was not prepared for the tears that streamed down my face as I sang, “Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia! Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia! Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia! Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!” They weren’t tears of sadness but of shear, utter joy. Recent research says that when you cry because you are happy you are responding to an overwhelming positive emotion. I was definitely swept up in thankfulness for what Christ had done. Without Christ, there is no eternal life, paradise is not open. Wow, what a gift!
As I sang I thought of this Jesus of Nazareth who had died on a cross one Friday afternoon and then arose from the grave three days later. I reflected on the people who told of seeing him, talking to him and touching him. They told of sharing meals with him. These same people would later die because of these stories and what they believed these stories meant.
The Easter story is more than a story of an empty tomb. In fact, each of the Gospels dedicates an entire chapter to resurrection appearances (John dedicates two chapters). It’s a story of people realizing who Jesus really was and what he really accomplished with his life, death and resurrection.
This Easter, perhaps because I lost someone very close to me, I cried tears of joy when I sang, “Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia! Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!” But truthfully, I should be this happy every day. The opportunity to live eternally in the presence of God was given to me and to all who believe, all those years ago. Easter matters. The resurrection matters. Thanks be to God!