There is sadness when Christmas is over. A longing to hear just one more favorite carol or to see the neighborhood once again draped with magical lights. A yearning to again feel the miracle of the season; the desire to be better people; less selfish; more compassionate; to oust our inner Scrooge from power.
What do we feel after Easter? I would dare say, not much at all. Why is that? How can the true highlight of the church each year so quickly fall flat on its spiritual face? Why do we never share our favorite Easter memories? How does this holy time become rapidly empty – like a flat tire? I think it has to do with the difficulty in swallowing whole and then living out the Easter message. Let me try to explain.
Christmas is the birth of love. Baby Jesus renews our hope in Life itself. We are called to be wise enough to bring gifts to our God. The gift we must bring is our Selves. We must entrust our souls to God’s care. Easter is the promise that beyond death there is more, way more. More of life and love and all that matters, not endless time, but endless Grace.
Easter tells us not to fear death. God was with us before birth. God has been with us every day of our lives. God will be waiting for us beyond the blue, the sky, the whatever. Jesus’ resurrection is an announcement that our spirits, our souls, are never captured by the grave.
We know how to do Christmas. We know how to give gifts, how to be kinder and gentler and far more compassionate. We know how to give Tiny Tim some hope. But, how do we do Easter? How do we live out the message of eternity? How do we affirm our faith that Life is timeless?
Resurrection poses a real challenge, especially when it is defined by so many churches as the promise of eternal life to only a select few, as if heaven is seen as some kind of Christian Country Club, and membership reserved only for those of their church’s beliefs. How sad is it that so many Christians are prone to denying entrance to those they deem unfit?
Resurrection can be celebrated. It truly can. In many ways, it is spiritually easier to do than Christmas. It is definitely more substantive in meaning, and I suspect more significant to most. So, how do we celebrate Easter? How do we keep the Easter spirit alive all year?
We live without the fear of Death. We live with a focus only on what matters. We live without trying to escape our terminal nature. We simply claim the reality that we are finite. We trust that God is somehow, someway, with us, and that we are in contact with God’s Grace all of the time. We are God’s beloved children. We are indeed cherished and adored.
OK, so there IS the obvious obstacle... Trying to live without the fear of Death. No easy or small task, right? I would argue it IS easy. It's called a leap of faith. We courageously take a flying leap, and we do so believing that we will somehow sprout some wings, and, shock of shock -- the wings will be built solely from and of the belief in God and his love.
Easter is simply the announcement that love is all that matters. Love alone will keep us fresh and forgiven from dawn until dusk. Love is the essence of Grace. Grace is the event called Jesus the Christ. Jesus Christ cannot speak of loving without grinning ear to ear. The Holy Spirit knows we have all eternity to know and feel and experience this love. God will manage to bring us all home. It is just the undeniable nature of a God of Grace.
Bunnies, bonnets, baskets, jelly beans, chocolates and pastel colored eggs; not very memorable. We do not even pack them away for next year. No, these are not the real stuff of Easter. Easter is the daily chance to choose to live in and of and about love. Easter is coming home. Easter is home. All is Grace. Grace is pure love. It is ours for the keeping. Now, that is unforgettable. In faith – it is also undeniable.
Think of the heart as the tender palm of a strong hand. A miraculous muscle meant to squeeze out the pain of this life of ours. A flesh made sweaty by the efforts of faith, hope, and love. Think of the heart as the context of compassion, the domain of mercy, the seat of the soul.
Think of the heart as the point from which we overlook eternity, a place from which joy begins to flow. The heart is the source of all that is love and loving, the perspective which enables us to create human kindness. The heart is the grand equalizer, and the human tenderizer.
The heart is a dwelling place. It is where the human spirit resides. It is here that the soul receives its inspiration and hope. It is within these walls we will find real rest -- Sabbath. It is within this spiritual home we will find our meaning. Where we discover and uncover our purpose. It is here where we first hear the echo of a calling.
The heart encases the soul. It is the soul’s protector and the spirit’s igniter. It is a fountain of information, instinct, and intuition. It offers the soul an endless stream of data. Data focused on offering us intimacy with God. The informed heart feels close to God, at one with God, at ease, embraced by God’s Grace.
The heart cannot help but bleed. It is the soul’s nature. A bleeding heart is a spiritual instinct. It is the way we reflect the image of God. It is to the soul, what breathing is to the body. A bleeding heart animates the soul, inspires and guides it. Nurtures and cares for it on a daily basis. A bleeding heart gives is the very stuff of Life.
The bleeding heart is the soul maturing, a soul working hard to matter, a spirit striving to make a difference. The heart is a muscle which can only be pumped by forgiveness and love. It is made only stronger by encountering the mystery, the wonder, the awe of it all. The soul must be worked out in relationships. To our Selves and those we love; to the earth and Life itself; to God, however each individual understands the concept.
The bleeding heart is a blessing. It is required for a mature adult faith. It is vital to our spiritual growth and the enjoyment of our days. It is the ground upon which we can create a genuinely good life. It is how and where we build the Kingdom of God. It is fertilizer for the soil of service and sacrifice. It is, in fact, the fertile soil receptive to the seeds of faith.
A bleeding heart, accepting and embracing of diversity, compassionate and caring, sliced open by yearnings, cut deep by longings, and scraped by desire. The blood which flows is our very lives, the stuff from which we are made whole, and the divinity which pulses at our core. A bleeding heart is how God blesses us to experience the full holiness of Life, and our lives.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.