As a child I knew little about Lent and Easter—we didn’t observe Ash Wednesday, Lent or the 50 days of Eastertide that our Anglican tradition observes. While I always loved Easter, it was pretty much a long weekend celebration of egg decorating, egg hunts, wearing pretty dresses and bows, Easter church, and feasting! It was great fun but had no real significance other than good family times.
It wasn’t until I began to truly follow our church’s tradition that I realized the rich and multi-layered significance of Christ’s crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension gave to His people. As I have grown into this knowledge so too has my faith and love for our Savior flourished.
So why is it, I find when Easter weekend has past my Lenten disciplines and reflections don’t continue to take the driver’s seat in my daily routines! I miss them but I am not as intentional in making my day revolve around them. And if I let myself dwell on this fact, feelings of guilt creep in and I wonder what Christ thinks…how disappointed is He in me?
This year this question hasn’t been rhetorical but one I sought an answer to. As I read through the Gospel of John it hit me. Look at Jesus’ reaction to His disciples in John 20:19, 21. He comes into their midst behind locked doors and twice He blesses them with His Peace! How glorious is that!
Christ could have come into their mists and condemned them for their waning loyalty…for their poor performances as His disciples. Think about it; since He had last seen them, they fled when He was arrested. Peter denied Him three times. They doubted Mary’s initial report of the resurrection. And now they are hiding because they fear the possibility of losing their lives.
But Jesus doesn’t condemn them…He blesses them with His peace!
This peace is not merely the absence of conflict and fear but this peace is two-fold: through Jesus’ atoning work on the cross he gave them peace with God. And the second, not only does Christ give them peace with God but He also gives them the peace of God through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit within them.
The same glorious Good News is true for me and my poor performance as a disciple.
If you are like me and are not always as faithful and dutiful as you want to be, the Good News is that Jesus wants to bless you and me with His peace despite our human failings. This of course doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to be better. Because in the second part of this Eastertide passage in John 20:21, we see Christ breathing the Holy Spirit upon them to prepare them to become faithful witnesses sent out by Him just as He was sent by the Father.
As believers we are all called to be witnesses of Christ, to follow His commands to love God and our neighbor just as He did. But for me today, the great truth I’m meditating on is that we serve a God who understands when we fail to be all we are called to be and He blesses us nonetheless.
Oh, what a happy Easter it is!