A Symbol of Hope (Easter 2014)

You will notice that there are Easter eggs on your table. We want to thank Dave, and Kourtnie and Terry for coloring them for us.

But why are the colored eggs on the tables for our festive Easter celebration? And why for Easter?

Our world is full of symbols.

    The flag is representative of the United States; we feel a warm spot in our hearts when we see it go by us in a parade or when it is flown at the Olympics for our medal winners. A flying eagle against a blue sky over a snow-covered mountain can have the same response for some people.

    Anyone with even the tiniest bit of Irish in them (or an Irish wannabe) looks forward to the wearing of the green and all the shamrocks at Saint Patrick’s Day

    When we see a turkey, particularly with its tail fully fanned, everyone thinks of Thanksgiving.

    Christmas trees, although a pagan ritual, remind us of the birth of Jesus.

    Red hearts make us think of Valentine’s Day.

    And last, but not least, an empty cross reminds us of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. The cross is empty because he not only died on the cross, but on the third day rose from the dead to conquer death for all of us.

The coloring and giving of Easter eggs is a long time tradition; not only among Christians but also many pagan rituals. In ancient Babylonia, the egg was considered a sacred symbol. A fable tells of a large egg falling from heaven into the Euphrates River and the Goddess Astarte (Easter) supposedly hatched from the egg. Therefore, the egg represented the Goddess Easter. Eggs remind us of Spring, of new beginnings. Just as an egg can produce a chicken, it symbolizes life created anew. The egg sits in a shell (just like Jesus was put in a tomb), only to spring forth as a little adorable chick when hatched. The Easter egg, is a symbol of rebirth, a reminder of Jesus’ resurrection (or rebirth).

The cross is empty, no one is hanging on it.

But we remember that Jesus once hung on it on Good Friday until His death. To the Romans, crucifixion was the cruelest punishment; only the lowliest of people would be crucified. The Jewish officials, who were so afraid of Jesus’ power, tricked the Romans into executing Jesus on the cross. But He did not stay dead – he rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. When He rose from the tomb the cross became more than just a sign of torture. It became the symbol of Jesus’s victory over death.

Jesus came as a messenger from God – in fact it was God made man – to tell us that God loves us – that life and death are NOT the whole story. The cross of suffering is bare, the tomb is empty. The rest of the story is eternity – one message:

    Like Jesus, we came from God and will return to God

God is with us each day of our lives, living in us and in the love of those we see.
Look around you. Life is cyclical and eternal.

    Flowers may die in winter, to be reborn in the Spring.

    Every year trees blossom, leaves fall again and again. Life renews itself generation to generation.

    Science has proven that no matter is ever destroyed – wood is burnt into ash, the ash nourishes the earth, the earth sprouts a new tree.

    Ice melts to water, water evaporates to steam, steam rises to the clouds and descends again as snow or rain and the cycle begins again.

Everywhere we look signs show us that life is eternal. God so wanted us to understand His eternal nature – our eternal nature that He at last came to the earth as a man – Jesus – to show us once and for all that we, too, like Him – all are born and come from God. And though we may suffer, as Jesus did, as He died, through pain and disappointment, struggles and even death, we will – like Jesus – rise again to live with God.

Even better, we will all do this because of the beautiful, saving message Jesus brought that there is not one left out, no one left behind!

Eternal love, peace and joy is for everyone, regardless of what we do. We are loved, we ARE love, we are FREE!

The tomb is empty!

So what about the Easter egg? What about the cross? These symbols?

Why do we greet this Easter Day with songs of joy, bright colors, happy festivities?

Because all are symbols of the greatest news any person ever had; we are okay, we are loved.

At our deepest core, we are part of God and He will never leave us.

    Death will not stop us.

    Love is alive in us and always will be!

    We are as fresh and new as these eggs.

    Whatever ‘crosses’ life may bring us, they shall not kill us or hold us hostage.

    The Lord Has Risen. Alleluia! He has risen indeed!

We are all part of God’s love, God’s eternity and we have nothing to fear – this is the message of Easter – indeed the most joyous season of all.

Let us not love one another as He has loved us – and continues to love us throughout eternity.

Amen.
 
 
Adapted from Karen Peeler
Delivered at In The Garden Community Ministry, Trinity Episcopal Church On Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 20 April 2014

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