1 Corinthians 15.3-4
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.
Worship had come to a conclusion and people were lining up on their way out of the sanctuary. While I shake hands with those who have come to worship the living God, I attempt to really connect with them as they leave but I also listen to the conversations going on in the line a few people away. Yesterday I overheard a man saying to the person behind him, “I just don’t understand why we need to have services in the middle of holy week. Can’t we just show up for Easter?” With every fiber of my being I resisted the temptation to explain, in detail, the importance of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday when he came to shake my hand; without them, the resurrection loses it’s meaning.
A similar episode occurred last week when I was teaching our Preschoolers about Palm Sunday. I told the story about Jesus entering Jerusalem on the back of the donkey because he was preparing himself for the beauty and wonder of Easter. I was in the middle of a sentence when one of our 4 year olds shouted out, “I love Easter Pastor Taylor!” I said, “I do too, it’s my favorite day in the entire year.” She replied, “I love Easter because the bunny is going to bring me lots of candy and toys!”
Chocolate, games, and Easter eggs are all important for the celebration of Easter in the way they fill us with joy and excitement, but they are not fundamental to the story. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about what he handed on to them. As a new and budding Christian community they were tasked with hearing, remembering, and retelling the fundamental aspects of Christ’s incredible gift: Jesus died for our sins, he was buried, and then he was raised on the third day.
If Easter is just another Sunday that we come to church to hear a message, if Easter is just about searching the yard for plastic eggs and having a meal with our families, then we are not properly handing on what we have received.
God came in the form of Jesus to dwell among us, fully God and fully human. Jesus ministered to those in need throughout Galilee and proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor. He went to the places where people needed to feel loved and he gave everything he had to serve others rather than himself. When the time came he made his way to Jerusalem and spent a final night with his friends feasting on bread and wine and washing their feet. That night he was betrayed, arrested, and sent to his death. He carried his cross with a crown of thorns adorned on his head and was hung in the air next to two thieves. Jesus died. But three days later he rose again and the the world was changed forever.
The story of Easter is one that was handed to us, and now we have the privilege to hand it to others. This week, this final week of lent, let us all remember to tell the whole story, to live through Jesus’ final days, so that we might live with him forever in the resurrection.