Happy Easter Everyone!
I know I’m a day late, but I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. For me, this Easter weekend has been good, but a little different. I didn’t go to an Easter Egg Hunt with my grandchildren like I usually do on Saturday. It was overcast and I had another commitment. My daughter and her husband are moving and were on the road. We had our Easter family dinner on Saturday instead of Sunday and I had a couple of unexpected things happen that kind of made me feel a little out of sorts. Thinking of these things, I said to myself, “Things are just not quite the same this year. It doesn’t quite feel like Easter.”
But then I went to church and I felt God whisper to my heart, “Remember, I am victorious. Don’t look at what you see around you, rather look to the empty tomb. I am alive and I am greater than anything you are facing right now. Rejoice in me.” And so I am rejoicing. I am rejoicing today that I had some unchurched friends come with me to church. I am rejoicing that I had another friend who was alone over for Easter dinner. I am rejoicing that those unexpected things are already conquered in the mighty name of Jesus and I am rejoicing that Jesus is alive. Sin and death are defeated and the tomb is empty. Praise the name of the Lord!
The thing that sets faith in Christ apart from the other religions or belief systems of the world is that Jesus is alive. Oh, how that truth comforts me in our messed up crazy world! You see, hope didn’t die when Jesus was crucified; for believers, hope begins at the cross. It was at the cross that Jesus restored relationship between man and the God who relentlessly loves him. The empty tomb seals the deal. We live because Jesus lives. We have hope for today, tomorrow and forever because Jesus is alive.
I can look at the cross from the perspective of hindsight. For me it’s history, but for Jesus’ disciples, it was a different story. Jesus had told them of His upcoming death, yet His disciples didn’t fully understand the implications of what Jesus was saying. It must have been a long three days for them after Jesus was crucified. Their grief was unbearable and their loss felt all encompassing. As for hope, I can only imagine that at this low point, it was nonexistent. All they had dreamed of, their future aspirations as followers of Jesus were dashed. Life would never be the same. How could they even think of going on? What would they do? They couldn’t remain in hiding forever or could they? Could they, should they go back to the lives they knew before Jesus had called them? I can only imagine the pain and confusion they felt; then on the third day, the tomb was found empty. Could it possibly be? Was it true what the women said? Yes, Jesus was alive and history was changed forever! Not only was history changed; their lives were changed forever.
Looking back on this one incredible event, I can’t help but rejoice and be thankful! Jesus is with me! He’s alive! Yes, I know there will be dark, dreary days, days when the unexpected happens and things just don’t go the way we hoped for. That’s life! There will be moments filled with intense pain, hurt and great loss, yet I know there is also hope. Hope because our friend, Jesus, the one who loves us more than anyone else, is alive. He is alive and well! He’s able to redeem all that we give to Him. ‘Thank you Jesus, that you are my friend. Thank you for life and hope. You are and forever will be alive and well!’
Yes, Easter has been a little different for me this year, but I have hope. Hope because of Jesus. What about you? How is your hope right now? What reminders has God given you lately to show that Jesus is alive? For me, the greatest reminder is a sense of His presence just when I need it most. The sense that I am not facing these unexpected things alone, but I have a victorious Savior who is walking hand and hand with me. Jesus definitely is alive and well. Let’s celebrate and share the good news.
MY HOPE THOUGHTS
I have a couple of practices that I have started to focus my attention on the positive and to restore my joy and hope when unexpected life circumstances seem to smack me in the face. One is to daily write at least five things that I am thankful for. It doesn’t have to be much, just something to remind me that God is with me and that I indeed have reason for gratitude. I have thanked God for my morning cup of coffee or tea, for rain and for the simple fact that I have air to breathe. Another practice that I have been doing this year is to ask God what He says about hope and then write down what comes to mind. No, these are not scripture, they are just my musings as I pray, but I wanted to share a few of them with you. Here goes:
* Hope believes in the Resurrection. Hope trusts that Jesus is alive!
* Hope believes in the goodness of God.
* Hope keeps us moving forward because we know God is greater than anything we are facing, even when everyone and everything around us says to give up.
* A new day, a new beginning, resurrection life springing from the tomb. Trust in Jesus, that is hope.
* Never stop hoping. Hope brings joy and peace. Hope remembers that Jesus is with us and Jesus is for us.
* Never forget, today may be the pits, but there is always tomorrow and tomorrow is a new day, a new chapter in your story.
* Hope is light, a beacon in the dark, leading us ever towards the reality of what God has sown in our hearts.
* Don’t believe the enemy. Hope is alive!
* Hope never dies when it’s paired with gratitude and the reality of God’s grace. Hope find strength in worship.
* When we lift our eyes to Jesus, hope is born anew. Hope soars in the light of His amazing love.
* Hope perseveres. Hope knows the long dark night will not last forever. Light will penetrate the dark, the tomb will be opened, death defeated and Resurrection life will spring forth. Hang on. Jesus is alive!
I am so very thankful that you are alive and well. When I begin to worry about all the things around me, often things I can do absolutely nothing about, I am thankful that you are walking with me. Thank you for reminding me that you are victorious. You conquered death, sin and the grave. You are greater than any enemy I face. Whatever I place in your care, I can leave there knowing that you will hear and answer my prayers. Thank you for being my best friend and thank you that you care about my family too. Oh may we look up to you with hope in our hearts because you are alive. I also pray for those who are struggling with hope right now, for the neighbor whose wife is in the hospital, the teenager who feels like her friends have all deserted her, the college student who doesn’t know which direction to take in life yet, the mom with a sick child or who is just stressed because life seems to be a series of messes to clean-up, for the one who is facing cancer or the demons of addiction, for anyone who has lost hope, give them joy in this moment. Turn their thoughts towards you and lead them to find hope in Jesus, hope in your living word. Amen
STORY: Jesus’ Friends See Him – John 20:19-28, 21:1-14, Luke 24:36-43
Tell your child, I need your help telling this story today. When I say, “sad” show me your saddest face; when I say, “afraid” hide your face like you are scared and when I say “happy or alive” say, “Yeah!” and clap your hands. Okay let’s practice: “Sad” (Sad face), “Afraid” (Hide face), “Happy” (Clap hands, say ‘Yeah’) Ready! Here we go.
After Jesus died, His friends were very sad. (Make sad face.) They missed Jesus and they didn’t know what to do. Their friend and teacher was no longer with them to help them. They were afraid of the men who hurt Jesus. (Hide face as thought frightened.) So they all hid together in a house with the doors locked. (Pretend to turn lock and say, “Shh!”) They didn’t know yet, that Jesus was alive, but He was.
Jesus wanted His friends to know that He was alive. He wanted them to know that He would always be with them, so He came to see them in the house where they were hiding. He showed them where the nails had been in His hands (Hold out hands.) and feet (Wiggle feet.) so that they would know it was really Him.
The friends were very happy (Say, “Yeah!” and clap) when they saw Jesus. Jesus really was alive! (Say, “Yeah!” and clap) Later Jesus also appeared to His friend, Thomas because Thomas had not been with the other friends the first time Jesus came to visit. Jesus wanted Thomas to know that He was alive too. (Say, “Yeah!” and clap)
Jesus is alive today too! (Say, “Yeah!” and clap) Although we can’t see Him, we know He is alive. (Say, “Yeah!” and clap) He loves us and He is with us wherever we go and He hears us when we talk to Him. Jesus is a good friend.
MEMORIZE: Matt. 28:6 ERV – (Hands open like holding a book.)
Jesus – (Touch fingers of one hand to palm of the other and vice versa.)
Is not here – (Put fists together like a tomb.)
He has risen from death. – (Wiggling fingers, raise upwards.)
PRAYER: Jesus,I’m so glad that you love me and want to be my friend forever. Thank you that you died on the cross to rescue and forgive me. I’m glad that you didn’t stay dead, but that you rose from the dead and that you are alive. I can talk to you any time and I know that you will hear me. I love you Jesus. Amen
KNOW: Jesus is alive and always with me.
TALK ABOUT: Jesus is alive!
ASK: Who loves you? Jesus loves me.
AND DO… I can talk to Jesus -any time and any place.
FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK
- Encourage your child to pray at mealtime, when you tuck them into bed at night – any time.
- Throughout the week, stop and remember that Jesus is with you. Remind your child that Jesus is with them too. EX: At breakfast – “Hi Jesus, I’m glad you are with me today. This cereal is yummy.” Outside – “Jesus, watch me slide down the slide. Are you having fun watching me play?” At bedtime – “Good night, Jesus, thank you for being with me today. Thank you for your love. Amen”
If your child wonders why he can’t see Jesus even though He is alive, you can tell them that Jesus went back to heaven, but because He loves us so much and because He can do anything, He sent His invisible Spirit to be with us all the time.