Saturday, April 8, 2017

You are Invited...

Growing up in the 70's--in the age of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus specials every few nights--I saw a lot of reminders about "the true meaning of Christmas".  Christians reminded us that the true meaning of Christmas is that God's only Son was born in a stable and the angels sang at His birth.  Secularists said that the "true meaning of Christmas" was love and friendship and faith in some unsubstantiated Good somewhere that wanted us all to be nice to each other.

Christmas is long over, and a week from now it will be Easter.  I have never heard anyone say that we need to be mindful of the "true meaning of Easter."   Stores are filled with candy and table settings with bunny motifs and egg-coloring kits.  Beyond candy and fun with the kids, whether  secular or Christian, everyone seems to be pretty sure they already know what is Easter is all about.

I recently attended an event where the speaker was a veteran who had served in the Gulf Wars.  He started an organization called "Carry the Load" because he was distressed that Americans don't properly honor Memorial Day.  He has organized a walk to raise money for veteran's causes and every year the participants meet at White Rock Lake in Dallas and walk to remember the sacrifices of those who served and did not come home.  I was very impressed with the energy that this man brought to this volunteer project and with the passion with which he spoke about not forgetting our troops.  He said that growing up he thought Memorial Day was about picnics and sales at the mall and having fun with family and friends, and he wants to change that for the next generation so that they will understand that real people gave their lives for freedom and hat freedom has a cost.  It is a very worthy project.

For the most part, as Christians, Easter is our Memorial Day.  We tend to view Easter in a historical setting.  CNN is currently airing "Finding Jesus".  Mel Gibson's truly excellent film, The Passion of Christ will air several times over the next few days as it has every year since its release.  Other less well-executed Biblical epics will also air and churches will have live Passion plays, and we will enjoy these and be moved by them.  Growing up, I remember my parents teaching me that Easter is about remembering that Christ died for us two thousand years ago so that we could be forgiven.

The memorial aspect of our Easter celebration is good--it is appropriate and important.  We remember that Jesus was a real historical figure who lived and was crucified and came back to life.  But I have come to believe that it is completely possible to participate in all of the historical and memorial aspects of Easter and still miss the meaning.

The true meaning of Easter is that because Jesus died on that cross two thousand years ago and rose again after three days, the entire world has an invitation to start over.  Easter is God's invitation to every person to begin a new life right now, today.  It is an invitation written in the blood of Jesus--an invitation that says that no matter what the past has been or what we have done or what has been done to us, we can be forgiven, we can forgive others and we can start over. We are invited to be adopted into God's family and become His children.  Easter is the greatest gift that the world has ever known.  And because it is such an amazing invitation, there is a huge cost to those who refuse to accept it.  To refuse this invitation is to turn away from everything that God has planned for your life--both in this life and the next one.  It is to shut the door (often permanently) on the future that Jesus paid for on your behalf.

This year, don't discard the invitation.  Accept it and find out what it means to experience a completely fresh start and discover the life that God has planned for you.   

G-God's
R-Riches
A-At
C-Christ's
E-Expense

Alexandra and Joyce Swann's newest novel, The Invitation, was released Christmas of 2016.  For more information, visit their website at http://www.frontier2000.net.

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