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(The pictures are from our Easter sunrise service.)
Christmas is my favorite holiday, but Easter is a close second. It’s so full of meaning to me as a Christian – it’s all about Jesus’ conquering sin and death and finishing the redemption story that God has been writing since the fall of man.
To me, Easter starts the week before. At my church, we commemorate Communion twice a year, spring and fall. Our spring Communion service is always the week before Easter. What a poignant reminder of the suffering and death of Christ! It makes our Easter service the next week all the sweeter.
My church does an Easter sunrise service. Well, it’s not really at sunrise – it’s at 8 o’clock – but it’s in the early morning, and the air is crisp. Easter morning is one of those times when it’s just super-good to be alive. I normally enjoy life, but on Easter morning I especially get the feeling that “God’s in His heaven; all’s right with the world” (Robert Browning).
We go to the top of a hill for our morning service at 8 o’clock. Sitting around a campfire in camp chairs, we sing and share together. Afterwards, we go back to the church for brunch, after which we have Sunday school. Church is out by 11, after which we’re free to go home (or stand around talking and fellowshipping for an hour, as per usual). My family usually gets together with my mom’s extended family for an Easter dinner. All in all, Easter is a wonderful day of commemorating the joyful resurrection of Christ as well as fellowshipping with church and blood family.
One thing God has been working with me on lately is surrender. When you’re at my point in life – out of school but not married – you start wondering what you should be doing with your life. Should I be doing something other than what I’m doing? Should I pursue a career? I feel like where I’m at now is a good place to be, but I’m prone to worry that maybe what I’m doing just isn’t good enough. So God has been teaching me that I need to give up my future to His more-than-capable hands and trust that He will show me if I need to change my path. Surrender. It’s all about surrender.
My life would be so much sweeter if I would surrender. God can plan things out so much better than I can. The problem lies in making myself believe that and act on it.
A long time ago I heard surrender described as “open hands” (it was referenced in this video, I believe). That description has stuck with me ever since, and lately as I’ve been dealing with this very issue, God keeps reminding me to unclench my fists and open my hands. At Bible school at the beginning of this year, we sang Moses Hogan’s arrangement of “All to Jesus I Surrender”. That was probably my favorite song of our chorale tour, and it hit me between the eyes every night we sang it. The second verse of that song says, “All to Jesus I surrender. Lord, I give myself to Thee. Fill me with Thy love and power; let Thy blessing fall on me.” One night as I contemplated the words in that song, it hit me: I cannot receive the Lord’s blessing if my hands are balled up into fists. Only when my hands are open, palms up, can I receive what the Lord is trying to give me. Wow. What a beautiful reminder.
Recently, God showed me a verse that speaks perfectly to the issue of surrender. I made it into a graphic and set it as my computer screensaver:
“Surrender” is the theme that keeps running through my mind, and now with Easter approaching, I think of the greatest example of surrender there ever was and ever will be. Jesus surrendered Himself to death on the cross. He didn’t have to, but that’s what makes it all the more beautiful. I have to surrender in order to receive blessings, so it should be a no-brainer for me, right? Jesus surrendered to pain. I have nothing left to say but, “What a Savior!”
Yes, I have surrendered. It’s a constant battle, but I feel that through Jesus Christ I have gained victory. And God has blessed me with a peace that transcends all human understanding.
And now I’d like to share with you some of my favorite Easter songs. The first is a song that has become very dear to me; it’s called “His Robes for Mine”. I got a group together at Bible school and we sang it as a quartet, a capella. Please pardon the video quality; the camera wasn’t focusing right, but I think you can still enjoy the song:
“I Surrender All” – the version we sang at Bible school. I think we did it better than this group, no offense…
“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” – I think this song sums up Easter quite well.