This past weekend the Easter holiday was celebrated in America. As I sat pondering the meaning of the holiday and, of course, possible facebook statuses to go with it, I became overwhelmed – in the most wonderful way possible!
Living here has forced me to break away from most of my American and family holiday traditions. I fully expected spending the holidays away from my family to be extremely difficult. What I am finding instead is that, yes it can be tough sometimes, but the true reasons why we celebrate are becoming even more real to me.
In America I would have said that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus and Easter about His resurrection and that everything else is just hype. And I would have believed it. I probably would have rattled off something about how people focus too much on Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, the gifts, candy, new clothes, etc. But until I came here, I did not realize how much I was caught up in the hype or how surface-level my understanding of Christ’s birth and resurrection were.
Christ humbled Himself more than we could ever imagine. He gave up the glory of Heaven to come live among us. He lived a sinless life. He died a horrible and humiliating death on the cross. He rose from the dead three days later. He conquered Hell and the powers of darkness. He brought light and hope to a dark and dying world. He changed the course of history and my eternity.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15 that if the resurrection were not true, then Christians should be pitied more than anyone else in the world. But CHRIST IS RISEN!!! He is alive! If this fact were not true, there would be no hope in the world. But because it is true, everyone who trusts Him as their Lord and Savior has the indelible hope of eternal life in Him!
Since the Orthodox calendar differs slightly, this year Easter will be celebrated here next week. I am praying that I will have more opportunities to share God’s love and the truths of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection with the people here. Traditions are just empty rituals when separated from the true meaning of the holiday. In Christ, there truly is reason to celebrate!