Monday, April 24, 2017

The Chocolate Easter Bunny Hangover

At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had prepared. They found the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb, so they walked in. But once inside, they couldn’t find the body of the Master Jesus.

They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words.
~ Luke 24:1-8, MSG ~

As a pastor, I anticipate Easter with joy and excitement – after all, it’s the most important holiday in the Christian year. It’s the time when we get to celebrate the miracle that changed everything – when Jesus defeated sin and death and came to life again. It’s the time when we get to sing the most exciting worship songs, preach from the most powerful and mysterious texts, meet new friends that may be approaching church for the first time, and cement again our belief in the God who loves us more than life itself. It is an exciting and powerful day.

The mom in me, on the other hand, approaches Easter with a bit of fear and trembling. Facing each day without the routine of school, finding creative ways to entertain children while studying Scripture and prepping for worship services, and then dealing with the sugar rushes, meltdowns, and iPad over-use seem to sap my strength and energy, leaving me with more dread than drive. So I tightly ration the Easter candy in order to quell the resulting behavioral crises that are sure to come, not to mention the circumference that it adds to my hips. Locked up tight behind a complex system of tot locks and pantry doors, the last of the candy is still hanging around, mostly some jelly beans and stale M & M’s, perhaps a few toffees or forlorn taffy. The Peeps are always the first to go, and the chocolate Easter bunnies never make it past Easter day. And after the little people have had their fill of Easter spoils, and the big people have stolen nibbles and bites from the kids' sacred stash, we are left with the chocolate Easter bunny hangover.

It's that slightly icky feeling in the pit of your stomach from eating too much chocolate. The dull headache that’s left over from the backend of the sugar rush, and the swollen fingers and toes from the salty Easter ham that was devoured at brunch. Chocolate Easter bunny hangover, indeed. It’s that moment when you realize the fun and the hype are over, and the worst is yet to come – the meltdowns are coming on strong, the laundry (which is consequently streaked with jelly beans and chocolate) is piled up in the hallways, and the chores and the messy kitchen are just plain overwhelming. Life after the fun is just plain overwhelming. Life, perhaps, is even a little bit hopeless.

We see a picture of hopelessness in the women who went to look for Jesus in the tomb, expecting Him to still be dead, hoping to somehow anoint His body with burial spices. How could they possibly have hope when their hopes and dreams for a powerful Savior died on the cross on Friday? How could they possibly have hope when they were suffering such grief, such loss? How could they have hope when the man that they had seen do miracle after miracle gave up His right to life in order to show His resurrection power that would be the saving grace for every one of us? How could they even begin to hope?

But God. The God who overcame death, who brought Jesus out of that tomb, met those women right where they were, in the middle of their fear and their hopelessness. Those hopeless women who showed up anyway were the first to hear the news that Jesus was alive. They were the first to peer into the shadowy darkness of the tomb to find nothing left but a few linens because Jesus was gone from that place of death. God took those hopeless women and turned them into joyful preachers of the Good News – the news that Jesus was and is alive! God’s resurrection power gave those hopeless women a brand new hope.

And that’s kind of how God works. When we show up in our brokenness, our helplessness, our hopelessness, God transforms us through His resurrection power. He gives us grace to handle the chocolate Easter bunny hangover, the piles of laundry, the mess and the meltdowns. Because the same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that lives in each of us who believes. That resurrection power isn’t just for a powerful Easter sermon, it’s for meltdown Monday, for chocolate Easter bunny hangovers; it’s for the best day of your life and the worst day of your life and it is for every single day in between. And I hope that you can live in the constant awareness that Jesus Christ is alive and He is ready and willing to turn your hopelessness into joy through that very same resurrection power.

Dear God,
Sometimes our lives are overwhelming. Sometimes, our lives feel hopeless. Please meet me in my hopelessness, and transform me through Your resurrection power. Please grant me fulfillment when the mundane chores are piling up. Please grant me strength and patience when the meltdowns and the stress begin to overwhelm me. Please carry me each day in Your resurrection power and turn my hopelessness into joy.

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