The promise of the resurrection has never meant more to me than it does today. I have always loved Easter, there is no day like it on the calendar. Nothing even comes close. Ever since Lenya went to heaven, I have been living, breathing and eating the scriptures that describe Jesus’ triumphant victory over death more than at any other point in my life. The message I preached Sunday about Jesus’ resurrection, and the hope that is ours as a result, is one that has been on repeat inside my heart and home nonstop for months. We have comforted each other with “these words” as Paul said we should, and there is nothing that brings comfort when facing the grave besides the empty tomb of Jesus Christ.
As we celebrated the fact that Jesus rose the anthem reverberated across the state of Montana to more people than we have ever had the opportunity to communicate to. We have never undertaken anything quite so complicated or large as what we did Easter Sunday, but the reality of the message merits our doing everything we can to turn up our megaphone. God blessed the event in a major way and we saw many people respond to the gospel and stream forward in Billings, Missoula, Kalispell to make public professions of faith.
Going into the weekend we knew it would be bittersweet. Sweet to celebrate the best news that has ever been preached, like ever. I’m talking about “He is not here, He is risen!” Bitter for Lenya not to be there when I got off stage to show me her Lion mask craft they made in her Fresh Life Kids class. Sweet to hear story after story of life change and destinies being rerouted. Bitter to not get to see her scampering around the lawn looking for Easter eggs later on in the day.
In the midst of these highs and lows I saw something I hadn’t noticed in the Easter story before. Saturday. I tend to think a lot of Friday, when Jesus died. And of course you can’t think too much about Sunday when He rose, but Saturday hit me hard this year. On Saturday the body of Jesus remained buried in His tomb. He was not in His body. He had gone to Paradise. He would rise eventually, but for Saturday His body, which had been shed in dishonor, lay still. Motionless. Dead. Saturday is a place full of waiting. A place of anticipation. A place where promises had been made but weren’t yet fulfilled. To His disciples, who had been left behind, Saturday must have been the hardest part. I realized that we are sort of in a long Saturday, waiting for the promise of His coming, and we must not lose heart.