Easter joy…in Lent?
I know we’re just getting started on Lent, but I wanted to share with you some news! Today is the official launch day for my latest book, Easter Triumph, Easter Joy: Meditations for the Fifty Days of Eastertide (Forward Movement, 2022). As the title suggests, it’s a set of meditations for the full Easter season in which I explore the hope that comes to us in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I wrote this book as a spiritual discipline last year as I looked to cultivate a bit of hope in a news cycle that sometimes looks hope-less. If we really believe the tomb was empty, what does that mean for our worldview, our church, and our own lives?
By the way, I’m thrilled that Roger Hutchison was gracious enough to allow us to use his “Resurrection” painting on the cover. Beautiful!
Each day’s meditation is based on the scripture lessons for the day, except for Musical Mondays and Throwback Thursdays. To give you a flavor for the book, here’s a sample meditation, from the Tuesday in Easter Week.
I Have Seen the Lord
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” —John 20:18a
I. Have. Seen. The. Lord.
This short witness has made possible 2,000 years of Christian faith and life. Mary was the first witness, the one who told the apostles about the astounding news of Jesus’s resurrection. With good reason, Mary Magdalene is often called the apostle to the apostles.
Imagine if Mary had been reticent. She might have said, “I don’t intellectually understand how this can be, so I won’t share it for now.” Or she could have deferred, saying, “I just don’t feel ready to share this kind of news.” Thanks be to God, she boldly shared the Good News. The men heard from her the Good News and rushed to see. From her proclamation, all subsequent proclamations flow.
It’s not so different for us. I am a Christian because some generations ago, a follower of Jesus shared the Good News with someone who did not yet know Jesus. I have friends who have become Christians as adults; they are followers of Jesus because they heard the Good News.
Proclaiming Good News is essential, but statistics tell us we’re not very good at it. I wonder why. Perhaps when we overthink it, we would do well to follow Mary’s lead. We don’t need a specialized education or an engraved invitation to say, “I have seen the Lord.”
It’s really that simple. So often we imagine that inviting people to follow Jesus will involve disputation or complexity. But we can keep it simple. “Every Sunday I encounter Jesus in the sacraments. Come and join me.” “The church is not perfect, but together we are the body of Christ, carrying out his ministry on earth. Come and join me.”
This Easter season, what if we all tried to practice Mary Magdalene’s bold witness? Perhaps, like her, we are uncertain at first. Our brains cannot wrap themselves around God’s impossibly generous love at times. We might not be sure that we’re really seeing Jesus.
Yet, if we look around, we can see the signs. I myself have seen impossibly estranged relationships made whole. I myself have seen people experience abundance after practicing extravagant generosity. I myself have seen people who wander suddenly find meaning and purpose. I have seen the Lord.
Most likely, you have seen the Lord, too. Will you proclaim Jesus? Will you share the amazing news of Easter with a world that yearns for hope?
He is Risen illustration by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash