Many years ago, a parishioner gave me a resurrection plant. I keep it in a half pound margarine dish. Once every 4 or 5 years at Easter, I open the dish and bring this dry, lifeless, ball of sticks to church. During the children’s time I set the plant in a wide flat bowl and pour in some water. The children carry it to the church hall and set it on a table while they participate in Junior Church. By the end of coffee time, the plant has come alive. The ball has opened up to become a luxuriant green plant.
No amount of neglect will destroy this plant. It has the power to become new again with just a drink of water. That’s the way God made it. For me that plant is a marvelous illustration of the “Easter resurrection.”
With Easter coming, many of us skip Good Friday. We don’t want to deal with the “gruesome” part of the Easter story. We prefer to put on our Easter clothes and our happy faces to celebrate the resurrection on Sunday. Yet when I look at my plant, unless I experience it first as wizened and neglected, there is no miracle, no amazement. If we skip the crucifixion and head straight for the resurrection, Jesus becomes a piece of toast. We drop him into the ground on Friday, and he pops up on Sunday morning. We have no way of understanding the miracle of God’s love that is part of the story of Easter.
Easter is a spectacular celebration of God’s unconditional love. In Jesus, God was not defeated by the worst that we could do. We can face the pain of our mistakes, the horror of some of our actions because our Easter story assures us that God has the power to give us new life. We can’t earn that new life by climbing up the rungs of a ladder of good deeds. God’s gift of new life is unconditional and free. It comes as God’s Grace, and it’s amazing.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)