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Easter Past

Easter sunrise services were in vogue in California in the 1970s. Kent and I led worship at a sunrise service at a beach park one chill, foggy morning. I rubbed and blew on my frigid fingers so I could play guitar. The chorus to our final song was filled with Hallelujahs. We had practiced a lot and couldn’t wait to share it.

But, the preacher forgot there was a closing song. He finished speaking, prayed, gave a benediction and dismissed the crowd. Uh. Uh. People were walking away. What to do? We reminded him, there’s a closing song! Oh. Too late. I’m sorry.

The Easter uplift crashed down.

But then the thought came - think of the disciples. Think of their disappointment when their Messiah elation came crashing down on Good Friday. Our disappointment was nothing like their disappointment. But it was a reminder - our Easter joy, founded on facts in the past, is always embedded in our real world circumstances.

Paul the apostle was an expert at the both/and nature of Easter joy and imperfect life. He urged the Philippians to “Rejoice in the Lord always!” His joy was real, but his anxieties and pains in life were also real. Paul wrote at length to the Corinthians:

“You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you . . . . we are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate . . .” 1 Cor 4:8-13

Paul was an apostle, head and shoulders above me. Yet, my life mission is similar and I can imitate him in ways. It’s not time to reign, to sit back and enjoy my prosperity. Rejoice in the Lord, yes! But use my earthly blessings to serve Him through love of my human neighbors, to be living gospel as long as I have breath.

I’d like to share a couple of beloved Easter songs from those ancient 1970s.

* Sandi Patty - Was It On a Morning Like This? I used to play this over and over on a cassette, listening with one ear bud to keep me awake while driving to California in the wee hours of the morning with Kent and the kids. Me and Sandi Patti and the 18-wheelers in the twisty pitch dark of I5 through the Siskiyou mountain passes. Oregon? What’s Oregon? Our kids went to sleep in Washington and woke up in California. Yes, even on such a morning did our Lord rise from the dead. The chorus goes:

Did the grass sing? Did the earth rejoice to feel You again? Over and over like a trumpet underground Did the earth seem to pound "He is risen!" Over and over in a never-ending round, "He is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!"

* Second Chapter of Acts - The Easter Song. Scripture. Exultation. Gorgeous. We sing this at home every Easter:

The angel upon the tombstone said "He is risen, just as He said. Quickly now, go tell the disciples that Jesus Christ is no longer dead." Joy to the world! He is Risen! Aleluia! He’s Risen! Aleluia! He’s Risen! Aleluia! Aleluia!

It was on a morning like today, tomorrow, and the next - with griefs and sickness and oh-so-much work to do - that Jesus rose from the dead. Aleluia!

Christ is Risen! (He is Risen, indeed!)

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