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I’VE BEEN THINKING...ABOUT EASTER 2012

Mark contains the Easter story in which the women return to the tomb where Jesus had been buried, only to discover that the stone had been rolled away. They saw a man dressed in white, right by the cave (tomb) who told them:

“You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”

This passage reminds me of another story. There once was a Sunday School teacher who had just finished telling her class about how sad it was when Jesus was crucified, and then placed in a tomb with a huge, heavy stone that covered the opening. Then, she also wanted to share the excitement of the resurrection with them. The teacher asked her class what they thought Jesus’ first words might have been when he came alive again, and burst out of that dark tomb in to the light. A hand shot up into the air from the rear of the room. Attached to it was a sweet little girl who attended every week. She caught the excitement of the resurrection. Leaping out of her chair and throwing her arms up in the air, she shouted: "TA - DA!"

In reality, according to the modern translations of ancient scriptures, the first words Jesus said, were “Good Morning” (Matthew 28:9 The Message).

But for a moment, think a little more about that child's answer. It’s true, isn’t it? Easter is the time we celebrate God’s great message of "TA - DA!" Without God's miraculous "TA - DA!", we would not experience the hope, comfort, and the strong foundation that is our faith. The Resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in the religion that we call Christianity. The Christian faith is the only religion that claims that our Savior not only died, but rose from the grave three days later.

Without the Resurrection, we would have no hope for eternal life! Jesus would have been no different than any other prophet who came before him, or after. But because he died, and because he took the sins of the world upon his shoulders, and because he forgave us and rose from the dead to live forevermore, Jesus helps us understand why this is such a big deal! Jesus helps us to understand just what the "TA - DA!" is all about!

This month, the phrase, “He is going ahead of you,” just wouldn’t leave me alone. What did Jesus mean? What was so important about Galilee? At some point, Jesus had told the disciples that after his resurrection, he would meet them in Galilee. I don't know when Jesus shared this news, but he did.

Grab your bible, and read John 13:31-38, and then read John 14:1-7. Go ahead, the newsletter will wait.

Ok, you’ll now remember that this is the story of Jesus telling the disciples that he is leaving. He makes it clear to them that they can’t follow him to this new place. But, he lets them know that there will be a time when they can join him! Focus on those remarkable words in John 14. This would be so much more than Galilee! This was a “going before” them, that was actually referring to all of Eternity! This was God’s most perfect plan! This was, and still is, God’s fulfillment of the gift of Eternal life for all believers in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Jesus has gone ahead to Heaven, prepare a place for us!

Let’s look for God's "TA - DA!" this year! In some ways, we’re really fortunate here in northeast Ohio. Easter comes in the Spring of the year, when the earth is bursting forth with new life. Especially this year, with record breaking warm temperatures in March, the beautiful Spring surprises are way ahead of schedule. Even more important, is that we have an open heart and a deep faith that allows us to experience the love of the risen Savior every day.

A favorite Easter song for many, is “He Lives”. I especially like that line “You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart.”

Each of us wants to be sure, that if Jesus is truly in our hearts, it’s making a difference in our lives. Experiencing God’s great "TA - DA!", is meant to shake us up! We have new priorities. We have a new selflessness and generosity. We pray more, forgive more, and help the broken-hearted and the needy. We are called to discover, and not ignore our spiritual gifts, and we’re each given a special ministry – the ministry of sharing this good news!

~Pastor J

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