“But God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses.” Acts 10:40-41a
Dear Redeemer Family:
Easter! He is risen! He is risen indeed! That is the traditional Easter greeting. And frankly, it says it all. Easter is the high point, the main item, in Christianity. And its central message. Sorry, it is not Christmas. Most good modern Christians don’t realize that. Christmas has only ever been a minor festival of the Church, an important one, but minor. Easter is the highest of the major festivals.
Although, there are some links between the two, if you stretch the images a bit. At Bethlehem, there is Mary and Joseph. At the tomb, there is Mary Magdalene, a very different Mary. And the tomb belongs to a Joseph, Joseph of Arimathea, who places Jesus’ body in that tomb. There are angels in both. At Bethlehem, the angels are out singing “Glory to God” in the fields of the shepherds. At the tomb, the angels have rolled away the stone door of the tomb. And then sit and wait to see who comes by (that would be Mary Magdalene and the other women). It is the angels who really are the first proclaimers of the Resurrection, “He is not here. He is raised.” Many people miss that part.
And there is a subtle, or not so subtle if you think about it, link to life. At Christmas, we celebrate a new life, the birth of a baby in a stable. At the open tomb, there is also new life, but very different. Christ is alive and made a new creation as he is raised from the dead. In a strange way there is a deeper correlation. At Bethlehem, Jesus emerges from Mary’s womb. On Easter, Jesus emerges from the tomb, which has been a womb of new life for Jesus for three days. It sounds a bit strange, but I think that I like that image.
Christmas is really nothing more than the beginning of Jesus life amongst us. Easter is where it was all heading, the completion. It is Easter, and its gift of new life, which we have all been waiting for. Easter is much more wonderous and beautiful than Christmas. You expect a new life at a birth. You do not expect new life at a tomb. That is the important part of Easter. God demonstrates at the tomb on Easter morning that He is the victor. Jesus is raised victorious of sin, death and the devil. And we will be raised victorious with him! This is the gift of Christmas come to fruition. It is the center of our faith. It is what we cry out in our faith. Christ is raised victorious from the grave. And through our faith in Jesus, we share in the hope of the resurrection to eternal life. This is the full Christmas gift which God intended for us and all of creation. It is the gift beyond and above all gifts from God. Praise be to God!