Sunday, April 16, 2006

He is Risen

He is risen indeed.

Yes, today is Easter. For those of us who call ourselves Christians, this is the most spectacularly important and joyous day of the year. Personally, I automatically get tears in my eyes two Sundays a year. I am not one to cry much, but as I've gotten older, gotten married, especially had kids, my eyes "well up" with tears more and more often. I think the kids do it to me the most. Still, I am not what you would call an overly emotional guy. But I've always had to fight tears (or at least as long as I can remember) on Palm Sunday, and Easter. If I'm not careful, someone will notice someday that I am balling while I am pretending to sing:

"Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia! our triumphant holy day, Alleluia! who did once upon the cross, Alleluia! suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!"

I guess you could call them tears of joy, but at least partially they are tears of guilt. I like to think I would give my life for my wife or kids. If I had a chance, I probably would. But to suffer and die for the guy down the street or the homeless guy or the guy who punched me in the face, spit on me, laughed at me, and tortured me, is incomprehensible to me. I almost certainly would not do that.

Luckily Jesus did that for me, so it is not something I really have to worry about too much, but it isn't just literally about giving up your life for my neighbor (everyone). I am sure that Jesus would like me to sacrifice more of my time, money, effort, (blood, sweet, and tears) to other people.

I am pretty sure that I give more money to my church and other organizations who do Jesus work than most people. But, money is easy. Especially when I can just write the check, put it in and envelop and just forget about it. And of course, I don't just forget about it. Quite often I think "that could go to Tyler's or Connor's education" or "boy would a big-screen TV have been nice with some of that money" or "why can't I have a nice new mountain bike like this guy". And the truth is, I give a lot, but I have more. Tyler and Connor each have more in their college accounts than the average 18 year old college-bound kid has (and they are 4 and 1). I have 2 TVs and both are more than adequate. My mountain bike needs new shocks, but other than that is fine for what I do with it.

And I am blessed in all kinds of ways. Wife, kids, life, leisure time, money. Honestly, I "have it all". I do not think that anything has ever happened to me that did not turn out for the best. I've never had to struggle making ends meet. I've only really lost one person I've truly loved to death (before a natural time where you can say "it was his (or her) time").

In fact, I am a little worried as I go through the beatitudes that I am in a little bit of trouble when I reach the pearly gates.

  • Blessed are the poor: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. All things considered, I am wealthy.
  • Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land. I am somewhat humble, but I just get the feeling I am to really what Jesus had in mind when he referred to the meek.
  • Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted. As I wrote before, I've only really had to mourn once in my life, and I've made peace with that long ago.
  • Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. I can't say I hunger or thirst for justice. I certainly do not go very far out of my way to help people persecuted throughout the world.
  • Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. How often do I tell someone that I am not going to give them money to get on the bus?
  • Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. My heart is not that pure.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Well, I very rarely instigate conflict. I do try to make peace when I get a chance. But, it the conflict is not directly affecting me, I try to stay out of the way.
  • Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. I have never been persecuted in any manner.

There are millions of people suffering in the world, and these are the people that Jesus was uplifting in his beatitudes. I just am not one of the suffering people.

But, here is the beautiful part of Easter: I am not perfect, but I don't have to be. Jesus was for me. That is pretty amazing. It is something that quite frankly, most people don't completely understand. I can not say I completely understand it. In fact, I probably understand just a very small part of God's mercy.

And, all that is ok because Jesus is risen.

Anyway, in a few minutes, I will go to church, complain about all the two-time-a-year churchgoers. I will sit in the crowded sanctuary with my wife and kids, rejoice and sing, and be happy. And, I am going to cry. No one will probably notice, but I will cry. If anyone does notice and asks, I will say (mostly truthfully) that they are tears of joy. They may be touched or they may think "what a woman", but I don't really care.

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