As a pastor, I have sometimes felt a bit guilty the day after Easter. Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. It is big and a contrast to its gentle sister Christmas. Christmas is a candle slowly burning on a starlit night that shimmers on the face of the incarnate Lord. Easter is a triumphant parade whose noise drowns out the sound of mourners as it celebrates the risen Savior. If Christmas Eve is the gentle, “O Holy Night,” Easter is the rousing response, He is risen indeed! If you mumble it or don’t say it loud enough, we just do it again. Because Easter is big news offered in big ways.
Then I wake up the day after Easter and sometimes my first thought is one of tremendous relief. I lay there and think, whew! Made it. Holy Week is a rich experience. It is full of emotional lows and highs as we consider our redemption and the sacrifice Jesus made for us. There have been details to consider and four evenings of worship. By Monday morning, even though I am grateful for redemption and new life, I am just feeling relieved we made it to the finish line.I wish I was the kind of pastor who would jump out of bed shouting Hallelujah! and He is risen indeed! all through the house. I can only imagine that the first disciples had some extra zip in their step as the result of the good news of Easter. But what I usually feel is a blessed sense of relief that it is complete.
I have come to realize that blessed relief is an Easter experience. Christ’s offer of new life doesn’t always come in the form of excitement. Sometimes it is just a relief to know that Easter has happened. A good bit of what the resurrection offers us is an experience of blessed relief. I’ve noticed this lately:
- At the graveside of an old friend who died far too young. I felt such relief that Easter happened and new life was hers.
- When I spoke to a married couple who were, for a time, contemplating divorce, but now they are working it out. They are committed to commitment and to each other. They chose grace and are taking the first uncertain steps into new life together. And it is a relief for them both.
- Listening to a guy tell me about the way he surrendered to God by asking for help with his addiction. He was tired of pretending he had it under control, tired of what he was doing to others. He was finding a new life, and, compared to his old life, it was such a relief.
This Easter, when the great worship service is over and the music fades away, feel good about the ways you experience the good news of the resurrection as a source of true relief.