Easter 2017

Happy Easter. I know I am a day late, but yesterday was spent at Church and with my family and making good food. I love holidays that give me an excuse to spend time with my family making and eating good food. Thanksgiving is my favorite because it is all about the food and I enjoy cooking and seeing others enjoy eating what I have made. Two other holidays that come close are Christmas and Easter. And I appreciate Christmas and Easter from a religious perspective since they remind us of and re-focus us on Jesus Christ.

As I contemplate these two holidays I realize that Christmas and Easter are inseparably linked and interdependent. There is no reason to celebrate Christmas, the birth of a little child, unless that child becomes someone great or does something of immense worth or benefit. Not every child’s birthday becomes a holiday celebrated worldwide for centuries. But, Jesus Christ was indeed someone great and he did perform many great deeds worth remembering. But the greatest of all, the one that earned him most of the titles we use to refer to him, such as Redeemer and Savior, was his Atoning sacrifice for the sins of all of God’s children. This coupled with his death and subsequent resurrection, whereby he triumphed over death and made a physical resurrection possible for every single person who has ever or will ever live, is what we celebrate at Easter.

There is no Easter if there was no Christmas, and there is no reason to celebrate Christmas if there had been no Easter morning.

And I don’t want to debate calendars and dates and historical facts about when exactly Jesus was born. For me it doesn’t matter if he was actually born in April or December or sometime else entirely. I love the symbolism of celebrating his birth at Christmas and his resurrection at Easter. In the middle of a dark, cold winter we have hope that someday it will be brighter, it will be warmer, it will be better. The birth of Christ does not immediately solve all of our problems, but it gives us hope that through him we can have all of our wounds healed, all of our pains comforted, all of our imperfections made perfect. Christmas gives hope in a season when it is easy to despair.

Easter is celebrated in the spring and that is symbolic to me of the rebirth and renewal that we experience in the world around us. Just as plants and flowers begin to bloom again, shooting forth new leaves and new buds, Jesus Christ is resurrected in spring bringing new life to that which once was dead. And because Jesus lives again he grants that promise to everyone – “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

And the symbolism of Easter in the spring, with all of its talk of flowers blooming and trees blossoming brings to mind the picture of a beautiful garden coming to life again, and we are reminded that God seems to like gardens as well. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, in his last General Conference address in April 1985, said,

“As we read, ponder, and pray, there will come into our minds a view of the three gardens of God—the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden of the Empty Tomb where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene.

In Eden we will see all things created in a paradisiacal state—without death, without procreation, without probationary experiences.

We will come to know that such a creation, now unknown to man, was the only way to provide for the Fall.

We will then see Adam and Eve, the first man and the first woman, step down from their state of immortal and paradisiacal glory to become the first mortal flesh on earth.

Mortality, including as it does procreation and death, will enter the world. And because of transgression a probationary estate of trial and testing will begin.

Then in Gethsemane we will see the Son of God ransom man from the temporal and spiritual death that came to us because of the Fall.

And finally, before an empty tomb, we will come to know that Christ our Lord has burst the bands of death and stands forever triumphant over the grave.

Thus, Creation is father to the Fall; and by the Fall came mortality and death; and by Christ came immortality and eternal life.

If there had been no fall of Adam, by which cometh death, there could have been no atonement of Christ, by which cometh life.” (https://www.lds.org/…/1985/04/the-purifying-power-of-gethse…)

I love Easter for the same reason that I love Christmas, because they teach me that I am a child of God, that God is my father who loves me perfectly and eternally. He has a plan for me and for all of his children, which plan centers around Jesus Christ, who came into this world as we all do – a small, innocent baby. He grew into a man filled with the Spirit who taught with power and authority, who healed all manner of sickness and afflictions, who served and taught and loved every person he saw. He willingly went into the Garden of Gethsemane to offer himself as a ransom and a sacrifice for sin, and “in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name.” Then he allowed himself to be taken and beaten and judged and accused and condemned and crucified. He hung on the cruel cross of Calvary, fulfilling every prophecy and every psalm written of the Messiah. And when it was finished he gave up the ghost. And on that first glorious Easter morning his spirit entered again into his body and he took it up again in a perfected, exalted, resurrected state.

And because all of this is true I can be more than I am. I can repent and return to my Father and be forgiven for any and all sins, transgressions, or mistakes I may make. I can strive to become more like my Savior and more like my Father.

It is a Happy Easter because He is Risen! Death has no sting, the grave has no victory. Resurrection will come to all who die and Forgiveness will come to all who repent and seek forgiveness. And all of this is true because Jesus Christ first came into the world on Christmas Day and because he took up his body again on Easter Morning.

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