2 Corinthians 5:17 – So, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
Nearly all of my Easter decorations all into one category.
Almost all are eggs.
So why eggs at Easter? Why are they such a strong Easter tradition?
While the history of eggs and Easter is a little vague, we do know this is a long-standing tradition. The dating of Easter varies from year to year and is tied to Passover. Jewish Passover is always celebrated in the spring; thus, the reason Easter is celebrated this time of the year.
Eggs are a symbol of new life, fertility and rebirth. In the spring, we experience lots of new life: new baby chicks, new grass and new babies of all sizes, shapes and various species. Who doesn’t think a baby lamb, rabbit or bird is absolutely precious?
Sometimes called Paschal eggs rather than Easter eggs, these eggs remind us of Jesus’ resurrection. The hard-outer shell of the egg symbolizes the sealed tomb. When this shell is cracked, Christians are reminded how Jesus was raised from the death. Orthodox churches often dye Easter eggs red to signify Jesus’ blood.
Americans have a long-standing tradition of dying eggs, hiding them and hunting for them. Maybe we don’t know the exact reason why all of these traditions began. What we do know is they are very much connected to the biblical reason for Easter: Christ’s resurrection.
Whether you dye eggs this week or not; whether you will be involved in hunting for them; whether you can’t wait for deviled eggs (one of Hubby Rick’s favorites), eggs are an important part of our Easter tradition. May these eggs not just reflect a fuzzy baby duck, or some other new baby animal born this time of year. May we see how a simple egg helps tell the story of Jesus’ resurrection.
For simple symbols that help us recall the events of Holy Week and Easter Sunday, I am grateful.
New birth. New life. A resurrected Christ. May a simple egg point us back to the empty tomb and how Jesus’ cracked open humanity with the resurrection. Amen.
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Romans 6:5 – For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Early in our marriage, Rick and I often commented on how fortunate we were that all of our parents were alive. We knew this was not something to take for granted. We tried to make special times and memories with our parents as a married couple and appreciate who each person was.
Our last parent, my Mom, left this earthly world on Sat., Jan. 13. While her health had been steadily declining, the last three weeks, she changed nearly daily. Having stepped back from serving churches six weeks ago and with an understanding boss from my part-time job, I had the flexibility to spent significant time with my Mom the last three weeks of her life. While with her, I often privately reflected upon the lessons my Mom taught and was teaching me about living and dying. I share a few here.
My parents taught their children how to work hard. I remember being encouraged if I worked hard enough, anything could happen. No doubt about it, my Mom was a hard working individual. In ministry, I have often reflected upon the story of Martha and Mary in Luke’s gospel. Martha is a busy-body who wants to be a great hostess when Jesus and his friends show up at her house. Sister Mary is not distracted by all the preparations and simply sits at Jesus’ feet. When Martha is fed up with Mary’s lack of assistance, she asks Jesus to get Mary to help her. Surprisingly, Jesus sides with Mary’s decision to just be in his presence.
My Mom spent nearly all of her life being a Martha. She raised four Martha children. Possibly, she overworked her body into some of the health challenges she struggled with. Even in the last months while living at a nursing home, Mom would often talk about “all the things” she wanted to get done. It’s hard to flip the switch and move into a more Mary-like lifestyle, something my Mom never really became comfortable with. I watched this happen these past few weeks. It has encouraged me to continue reflecting upon how Martha’s can build more Mary into their lives.
Fiercely independent, it was NEVER easy for my Mom to ask for assistance or help. As my siblings and I became more involved in her care needs, it was very difficult for her to accept this. The nursing home staff loved her independence, even if it drove them (and her children) a little crazy. I greatly treasure her acceptance of help in her last days. Helping her eat, rubbing lotion on her skin, reading to her, listening to music and praying together became the single most important parts of each day.
We are not in control. There were many times we saw Mom’s independence continue in her last days. She taught us patience, interestingly not one of her dominant traits. We discovered the gift of peace and just being. Her living and dying journey brought my sisters and I together for several days, something that has seldom happened in our adult years. We discovered that we were along on Mom’s journey and needed to just accept how it transpired, which we came to peace with. I’m confident my sisters and I will treasure those last days together and pray we honored our Mom in the process.
Our greatest peace comes from knowing that in death, Mom would not really die. She simply would be united with Christ in a resurrection just like his. We knew and felt Mom’s whole journey was surrounded in God’s love and grace. We learned to accept each day with Mom as a gift and one to relish and enjoy.
In the days and weeks ahead, I’m confident I will remember and relive many more lessons I have learned through Mom’s living and dying. I close with the last sentence from Mom’s obituary and encourage you to honor my Mom’s living and dying by participating:
As an memorial, the family encourages you to reach out in kindness to someone or play a game of UNO in memory in her.
Almighty God – I thank you for the woman who was my Mom. Thank you for loving her and through her, teaching me so many important lessons on living and dying. I celebrate her life and death. I pray You will continue to teach me things through her journey of living and dying. Amen.
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Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die.”
As soon as the snow melts and there are a few warm signs of spring, I begin to poke around in my flower beds looking for shoots. The first ones I see are from a plant called Resurrection Lilies. Some people call them Surprise Lilies or Naked Ladies. Here’s why.
In early spring, long, wide leaves form a leave mound. The leaves are about one foot long and have round tips. They are green for quite a while. Then one day, usually in early June, they begin to die off. Just as the other flowers in my beds are becoming vibrant shades of green, the Resurrection Lily leaves look like it is fall. Or going through a drought. I yank them out of the bed. And wait.
And wait. And wait. Then, in early August, new shoots sprout up. Almost overnight, the shoots get a couple of feet tall. In short order, beautiful pale pink lilies appear. They bloom for about 10 days. Interestingly, when the flowers bloom, their stem is completely naked; why some people call them Naked Ladies.
Last week, the Resurrection Lilies in my beds were beau-ti-ful! And I mean beau-ti-ful! They were so stunning that Rick asked me if I had planted more of them. They are a bulb and reproduce and multiply themselves without me having to bury more.
While these lilies are called a variety of names, I prefer the term Resurrection Lily. Simply because they remind me of what happened to Jesus. As God’s Son, he came to earth. He bloomed where he was planted. Helped people grow in faith. He multiplied fishes and loaves to “feed” the people. Just when things seemingly were going good, he was yanked from society, condemned to die and endured a horrific death. His body was laid in a borrowed tomb. After waiting three very long days, some women went to his tomb and discovered his body was gone! While Mary was still in the garden, Jesus came to her and flowered her with the wonderful news that he was not really dead but very much alive.
Unfortunately, the Resurrection Lilies are nearing the end of their life cycle this year. But I have complete hope they will be back next year; once again reminding me of this very special story. A story that never grows old.
Lord God, we often encourage each other to “bloom where we are planted.” And this is exactly what the Resurrection Lilies do. Just as these beautiful plants go through a specific life cycle, encourage us to think of our life cycles and how various stages happen. May we go forth and allow ourselves to bloom where we too have been planted. Amen.
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