They had seen him die. They had watched in horror as his tortured body gasped and gurgled it’s last breath. They saw his skin change color, his jaw go slack and his eyes set. Still, lifeless, they knew that the person they had followed and loved was a stranger to them now. No sparkle in the eye, no grin or laughter, no knowing look. Just a shell; a grizzly mannequin hanging like an effigy of all their hopes and dreams.
When all hope is gone, when dreams and loves have run through your fingers like sand, when you slump to the wall and whisper “it’s broken, it will never be right again”, God has one final word for you.
Look in wonder at wide open horizons of hope that resurrection reveals. God reveals that he’s the God of NEW BEGINNINGS, and no matter what we say is plausible or rational or scientifically viable, God winks and reminds us those are not the adjectives that describe a deeper magic. Resurrection reminds us that God is God and the possibilities are endless as life passes through his hands.
No one expected this. During those three days not one disciple suggested that maybe Jesus would be back. Why would they? This is unheard of, unthinkable, impossible. Yet there he was. He had passed through the grave and come out the other side in a whole new condition of existence. Sometimes our hopes and dreams have to have the mark of the cross on them. Sometimes we have weep and bury them, only to discover they were really the seeds of a whole new answer and purpose we hadn’t anticipated. Flowers that are different from the picture on the package, but are far more wonderful than we could have conceived of.
This is the wonder of Easter.
I hope you can come out and celebrate with us at some point this weekend…or for everything we’re doing! Here’s what we have going on:
FRIDAY @6:30 pm, APRIL 22nd: We’re having a special GOOD FRIDAY BURNING HOUSE service. We’re going to have elements of the Seder (the Passover meal) for you to sample, and we’re going to talk about the correlation between the Seder and Jesus’ instructions to us concerning the communion. There’ll be music and praying for each other and hanging out and laughing and maybe crying…all the stuff connected with human beings reaching for the Divine.
EASTER SUNDAY @6 AM: The Dawn Patrol Sunrise Service! GET UP! GET STOKED! HE’S ALIVE!! Easter morning we are going to meet on the beach for a time of worship, reflection and prayer as we begin the day where we remember that Jesus rose from the dead and changed everything forever. If that’s not a reason to get up early, I can’t imagine what is. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket. We’ll be meeting at the corner of Oriole and Gulf drive on Panama City Beach (off of Thomas Dr). Here’s a map
EASTER SUNDAY, 9-11 AM: Come celebrate Easter as we read and explore John 20:10-20, 24-31. It’s the story of a guy named Tom…someone I consider a soulmate. We’re going to look at his journey from honest doubt to real faith. Have you ever struggled with doubts and questions concerning the claims the Bible makes? We don’t need to be afraid of doubt, and especially don’t feel shame. Tom is our guide through those times we ALL have. What do you see in this story? What does it inspire in you?
Ok…well….long update, but worth it! Hope to see you at some point this weekend!
5 thoughts on “Easter is Here!”
Wonder where the saying “No pain no gain” comes from? If Jesus had not suffered to pay for my sins, what gain could I really hold on to this world. Money, I lost enough in my life to pay to put a child through college. Another house, I’ve lost one of those as well. With all the up and downs, mistake, misteps, screw ups, and just plain wrong and self centered decisions I have managed not to lose the love of my children and Jesus. I have been curious about that. I sometimes wonder when I am on my knees if Jesus asks Himself, “were was that heart I now see in you when you were doing what you please?” The only answer I can come up with is “Jesus Christ died for me.” When that answer is presented in this world, it has to be a stumbling block.
I am reminded of a story (I love a good story) about an elderly couple who were returning from a 25-30 year missionary life in Africa. They returned on a boat with Teddy Roosevelt who was there on safari. A huge crowd met the president and a celebration ensued. The elderly couple quietly and unnoticed departed the ship and found a small cheap hotel room for the night. The wife noticed that the man was upset and depressed and she asked him what was wrong. He said that they had spent there life in the mission field in Africa and nobody even greeted them upon their return, but a huge celebratory crowd met Roosevelt returning from safari. The wife patted the old man on the leg and said thats because we are not home yet.
I love this story. I love Thomas` honesty. And even more I love that Jesus showed up and revealed himself to Thomas! He didn’t scold him for not having enough faith he simply showed Himself to him and said erase your doubt and believe! I recently had a family member ask me how he could know that God is real. In hindsight I realize that I said way too much but the one thing I hope stuck was that I told him to ask the Lord to reveal Himself to him. This scripture reminds me and gives me hope that Jesus will truly reveal himself to those who have doubts but desire to know the Truth!
I’m wondering where Tom was when Jesus first revealed Himself to the others? Did Jesus (being all knowing) know that Thomas struggled with doubt and unbelief at times and so choose to come to the others when Tommy Boy was missing so that He might teach him(AND ME) a valuable lesson when I too struugle with unbelief and lack of faith.As Julie pointed how cool is it that Jesus showed compassion and undertanding to Tom’s unbelief…no harsh words of admonishment..Our Savior just lovingly pointed to the price He paid on that ugly cross and He had the scars to prove it.Doubting Thomas gets an unfair rap, we should call him Honest Thomas. He was not ashamed to admidt his feelings or doubts, he had the courage or freedom to consider and ask tough questions like..John 14:5-6 “Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”
I just realized today after reading this so many times that Jesus, when He said to Thomas “Blessed are those who haven’t seen and believe.” That he was only talking about us. He wasn’t talking about the other apostles as well and putting Thomas into a second category. The other apostles had to see before they believed as well. Also I admire that Thomas didn’t just listen to another man and take it as gospel. He listened for and saw Jesus before he believed. I need to do that more in my life. Wisdom can come from men, but I need to filter it through Jesus before I just accept it. On that note, todays message was one of the best I have ever heard. I love you guys.
I agree with Blake. This was one of the best teachings, worshipping, and celebrating of Resurrection Day I have ever experienced. I felt the Holy Spirit moving all of us as one in unity as His body, and so full of His Grace! I believe we as a church needed to experience this joy from the Lord, in spite of all of our difficulties, and He knows our difficulties. We can share this joy with others, those in the the faith, as well as others who do not believe. Who knows what God will do with us from here! Thank-you , Eastgate Family!