Every society incorporates certain times into its calendar as “new beginning” possibilities. New Year’s Day is one such day.
People look forward to a new year, unscathed by the scars, failures, and disappointments of the previous year. One fellow at the gym said that he dreads the first three weeks of January. “It takes about that long for all the new sign-ups who have made resolutions to ‘lose weight and to get fit’ to go back to their normal patterns.”
Birthdays are often another such possibility. “OK, I will be 40 next week,” the thinking goes. “It’s time for me to get serious about … whatever it is I need to get serious about.” Sports teams who have experienced a disappointing record look ahead to “next season.” Politicians and voters alike look ahead to the next elections.
Another day to begin fresh is Easter. In fact, Easter is preceded by Lent, which is a season of self-examination, repentance, and the intention to amend one’s life. Historically, Easter was a time when “notorious sinners were to be reconciled to the church.” For those who had failed, if hearts were right, Easter was a do-over.
A fresh start. A new beginning.
Easter is the highest and the holiest day in the Church calendar. Certainly, every Christian of whatever denomination should be in church on Easter unless prohibited by extreme circumstance.
For those who are in right relationship with God, it is a day of celebration and rejoicing. This day commemorates the resurrection of Jesus, which is the “first-fruits” of all those who are to be resurrected. Because He lives, we shall live also.
Easter is also a day of starting over. Those who haven’t fared so well spiritually during the previous year can (and should) be in church seeking forgiveness, reconciliation, and the hope and promise of a better life — a well-lived life.
Those who have been absent, for whatever reason, from the local “communion of saints” can return and assume their place once again.
For those who have no relationship with God, it is an excellent day to begin an inquiry, a search into the possibility that there is indeed a God and that he welcomes the honest seeker — even the agnostic who wants to be convinced before buying in to the God-thing.
It is a great time to begin a faith journey even if the first steps of that journey are small, trembling, and faltering — and even doubting.
It is also a time to forgive others, even as we desire to be forgiven. It is a time to set aside past hurts, wounds, and bitterness, to lay down the stones which we so readily take up to throw at others who, we incorrectly believe, are more sinful than ourselves.
This Sunday is a day to be in church — not the church of the television congregation, which is often edited, sanitized, and scripted, but the church of real, warm-blooded, struggling, always imperfect, and sometimes impious and hypocritical people. People just like us.
It is a day of new beginnings — a new start — for ourselves and for others. It is Easter. It is the day of promise and of life.[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org) He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]