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Easter is celebrated in much of our modern American culture as a holiday that serves up fancy baskets of toys and candy, dyed eggs, Easter egg hunts at the park, a little vacation time, and a new set of clothes for church. Rather than downplaying the secularization of Easter, we could take these as signs that a joy-filled life is available. Isn’t that what Easter is, the hope of being raised to a new level of life?

Easter occurs at the approaching of the springtime of year. I have always lived in areas of the country where winter means a long season of cold, a season where things in nature have died, and a season of long dark days. Springtime means that nature is about to come alive and the dark days are over. People look forward to the joy and hope of brighter days just ahead.

We live in a world where life often does not go as we plan and hope. We want our lives to be peaceful, secure, happy, and fulfilling.

We live in a world where life often does not go as we plan and hope. We want our lives to be peaceful, secure, happy, and fulfilling. Unfortunately, the life we want quickly becomes discouraged and depressed by unexpected sickness, accidents, failed friendships, divorces, bullying, addictive drug use, grief over the death of loved ones, and so forth. Our dreams are often disappointed and our jobs often unfulfilling. We live in a world threatened by war, crime, failed governments, and societal unrest. Instead of happiness and peace, we live with fear, debilitating stress, and what can seem like a long dark winter, but thankfully, there are a few rays of sunshine that keep us going. For many, the kind of life we want escapes us and we long for colorful eggs, new clothes, and fancy baskets of toys and candy.
The real meaning of Easter is that into our oft-dismal world, hope for a new and better life has come. A man came on the world scene who did things that were never thought possible. He showed us things people long for but are unable to achieve. He showed us that he has the power to eliminate diseases and bodily defects by healing people. He could control the weather so that its violent storms were calmed. He satisfied the needs of the poor and raised their dignity and worth. He brought dead people back to life. He changed people’s hearts through acceptance, love and forgiveness so that they would be able to love one another. He promised citizenship in a kingdom with no more fear, crime, cruelty, and death.

He gave unheard of meaning to the word resurrection. He promised that those who believed in him would be spiritually resurrected to a new and satisfying life, and later would be bodily resurrected to never die again, enjoying life on a new and incorruptible earth. His statement to the spiritual effect is this, “an hour is coming and now is, when the (spiritually) dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (John 5:25). He follows up with words regarding the physical effect,  “an hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice, and will come forth”, some to a resurrection of life, and some to a resurrection of judgment (John 5:28-29). He would be a kind and benevolent Lord and king of a kingdom that guarantees the fulfillment of all that is good. God, sent this person, his son, into the world, so that through him, God could rescue us and transfer us to the kingdom of his beloved son (Colossians 1:13-14).

Easter is the time when Jesus comes forth to guarantee the completion of God’s story, a story that includes the entire history of life on earth.

Easter is the time when Jesus comes forth to guarantee the completion of God’s story, a story that includes the entire history of life on earth. God’s tells the story in the book we call the Bible. Here is a brief summary of that story. “God created the world and everything in it. All was good. God’s good world has fallen into evil and ruin. The key to a restored world is God’s frequently mentioned promises of a savior. In cooperation with his people of faith, God works his plan to restore his world to goodness. In the end, through Christ, God creates a new and evil-free world.”

Easter is a celebration by those who have entered into God’s story by faith in Jesus, and who are currently living a new life in God’s partially fulfilled kingdom on earth. Furthermore, they are looking forward to its completion when Christ returns. The certainty of God’s plan for our world and for our lives is guaranteed by the well-attested fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead, and the spiritual life now residing in all believers through God’s indwelling Spirit. Easter celebrates life-giving hope.

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Jay Ashbaucher
Jay Ashbaucher is a native of Northwest Ohio and is currently a retired pastor and published author. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and has been a pastor and teacher in Montana for over 44 years. Jay taught grief classes in a hospital setting, and worked for twenty years as a fifth-step counselor and lecturer in an alcoholic-drug treatment center getting to know the hearts of people struggling to get well. While pastoring in Montana, he had enjoyed racquetball, hunting, fishing, and traveling the Big Sky State. Now living in Southeast Michigan, Jay enjoys his family, reading, hiking, golf, time with friends, and time with his fun-to-be-with wife. They have two happily married children and seven grandchildren.