Sunday, March 31, 2013

Resurrection Celebration

We had nine services at Owasso this Easter weekend.  That's right.  Nine!!!  One Friday, two Saturday, and six Sunday!  It was a weekend full of the power of God, the working of the Spirit, and, of course, the celebration of the risen Christ!

At the beginning of each of our services at LC, the band plays what we call a "walk-in song".  They play it while everyone is, you guessed it, walking in.  It's usually a popular secular song, and the purpose is to provide a sense of familiarity for those who might not be quite comfortable in a normal church setting.

This week, our walk in song was "I Just Want to Celebrate".  Fitting, right?  During the song, they played a video of LC pastors, staff, and church members lip-syncing while the band played.  It was a wonderful opportunity to laugh at ourselves and at each other. :-)

As the song played at the beginning of our Friday night service, I was struck by a sense of irony.  It was Good Friday.  I don't know about the rest of you, but on Good Friday I usually feel deeply grateful, slightly mournful, and just generally reverent.  I don't, however, usually think of singing "I Just Want to Celebrate".  Thus my feeling of irony.  We were celebrating, but on the anniversary of when Jesus was dead and being buried in the tomb.  Not normal.

And then it hit me:  Why not?

Why don't we celebrate then?  Why, for that matter, didn't the disciples celebrate then?  I mean, yes, Jesus was dead.  But hadn't He told them plainly that He would rise again?  "And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He said this plainly." (Mark 8:31-32)  Jesus didn't leave room for doubt.  He made it plain as day: Yes, there will be suffering and death, but the resurrection is coming!  Even so, as Friday and Saturday rolled by, the disciples mourned in their lack of understanding and could not lift their eyes to Sunday's celebration.

Aren't we the same way?  I know I am.  I've seen a few Fridays in my life.  Not as many as a lot of you, but I have seen some.  You know the days I'm talking about.  The days where there is darkness and pain and suffering and confusion, and what you thought was going to be the Source of life is dead.  Let's not pretend: Fridays are hard.

But don't we have a promise?  Hasn't He spoken plainly and assured us that there is resurrection after death?  He has promised that His plans are to prosper us and not harm us, to give us hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).  He has promised to work all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).  He has promised that though sorrow may last for the night, joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5).  And a thousand other promises besides.

See, Jesus makes a statement in John 11, eight chapters before His death, that should give us a clue.  He says in verse 25, "I am the Resurrection and the Life."  Did you see it?  That two-letter word that makes all the difference?  Read it again.  "I am the Resurrection and the Life."  Catch it.  Jesus didn't say, "I will be the Resurrection and the Life."  He said, as He has said since Exodus 3 when He said it to Moses, "I AM."

I think Jesus is trying to tell us something with that word.  I think He's trying to say that His resurrection power isn't a Sunday event.  He is the Resurrection.  That means His resurrection is as timeless as He Himself is, and He is eternal, the First and the Last (Revelation 22:13).  His resurrection is real on Sunday.  And it's real on Friday.  And it's real long before Friday ever comes.  And it's real long after Sunday is over.

What does that mean for us?  I think it's very simple.  I think it means we celebrate.  Even on our darkest, most hopeless Fridays, we celebrate.  Because His resurrection is just as real then as it will be when Sunday finally comes.  If the Resurrection is not bound by time, then neither should our celebration be.

So whether you're in the middle of a Friday, a Sunday, or any day between or before or after, let's celebrate, friends!  He is the Resurrection and the Life!  Come on, rock out with me, "IIIIIIII just want to celebrate...."

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