This is the week before Easter, aka the Festival of the Resurrection of Our Lord. It’s a busy time for most pastors, who are heavily involved in preparation for special Holy Week observations of the Paschal Triduum. That’s one name for the three day period beginning Maundy Thursday evening, including Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and ending Easter Sunday evening.
In Western Christianity Easter is always the Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox on March 21. Easter can come as early as March 22 or as late as April 25.
One of my so far unfulfilled goals in life is to persuade the Roman Catholic Pope to adopt my recommendation that the date for the Festival of the Resurrection be permanently established on the first Sunday in April. In my previous role as national church body president, I thought I had a platform for making that happen. Not so much anymore as a has-been official church leader.
Regardless of its date, I’ve always been amazed by the Festival of the Resurrection, which observes Jesus’ coming back to life. What a miracle! No one can prove it actually occurred. Nor can anyone disprove it. I don’t understand it. It’s a matter of faith. The Bible says it. I believe it.
We Christians confess in the third article of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in … the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting…” We believe not only that Jesus came back to life but also that we will do the same. Every time I speak those words I’m saying I believe that someday a miracle will occur, transforming my dead body back to life again.
Last week Terry and I went to Houston for the memorial service of my youngest sister’s mother-in-law. On the way back to Georgetown via New Braunfels to see my mother, we visited my father’s gravesite. His physical body has been in that grave for more than one third of a century. The thought that what’s left in that casket will come back to life is incomprehensible yet inspirational, bringing hope and assurance.
The older I get, the more I ponder the resurrection and the more I wonder about the nature of life in the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 21). Many questions remain:
- Will the body of a premature baby or an amputee or an elderly person or a person confined to a wheelchair on earth be transformed in heaven into the body of a strong, agile, wrinkle free young adult in prime physical condition?
- Will we be driving some kind of extraterrestrial vehicles or will we simply blink an eye and be transported effortlessly and quickly to a new destination?
- Will animals be living among us?
- Will my favorite foods (medium rare rib eye steak, marinated pork tenderloin, grilled chicken drumsticks/thighs and lightly grilled salmon) be available? (See Luke 24:42-43.)
- Will my least favorite foods (Brussel sprouts, yellow squash, okra, cilantro, peppers and onions) be nowhere to be found? (See Gen. 3:17-18.)
The resurrection of the body and life everlasting are made possible by the price Jesus paid during the days in his life we now observe as Holy Week. In that new life believers in Christ will be in his presence eternally. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:16-17)
That’s a promise worthy of joyful anticipation! Have a blessed Festival of the Resurrection!