The Third Day

Malus 'Branzam' Brandywine_Crabapple_DBG_LAH_5147

Today is Good Friday, when the church marks the crucifixion of Jesus. Two days later we celebrate Easter1, Resurrection Sunday, when Jesus rose from the dead. Yet, scripture clearly states that Jesus would rise on the third day.

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Resurrection Sunday

Easter is my favorite day of the year—Resurrection Sunday, the reason for my faith in Jesus and my hope of heaven. While Christmas is buried under tons of tradition, Easter has escaped relatively unscathed. Perhaps that’s why I like it best.

Sure, Easter gets mingled with the renewal of springtime. When I was small, my secular parents observed this holiest of days with jelly beans and marshmallow peeps, a chocolate bunny and perhaps an Easter egg hunt. But there are still ways to focus on the significance of the resurrection. When I became a Christian at age 18, I started attending the sunrise service held on our college campus. I can still imagine every detail of the warm spring sunshine (it was California), green leaves, singing birds. We sat on the dew-covered grass and listened to a pastor from a local church praise God for the resurrection. And we sang:

Hear the bells ringing. They’re singing that you can be born again. Hear the bells ringing. They’re singing Christ is risen from the dead.

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Thorns

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

John 19:1-5 (and I highly recommend
reading the rest of the chapter)

Easter Lilies have come to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus, but for Good Friday, I find the Crown of Thorns to be more appropriate. The pretty red flowers are deceitful. The rest of the plant is a collection of horrors.

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Observing Lent

What are you giving up for Lent?

This was a familiar question in my college dorm, back in the “Jesus Freak 70s.” As a child growing up in a Catholic neighborhood (my non-religious family stuck out like a group of Hari Krishnas at a bar mitzvah), I remember all my friends forgoing meat from Ash Wednesday until Easter. Fish sticks appeared on the school cafeteria menu while brown-baggers munched peanut butter or tuna sandwiches day after day.

Somewhere along the line, non-Catholic believers decided that giving up meat wasn’t the only option. We could fast anything, as long as it had some spiritual impact on our lives. Some of my college friends gave up sugar, while others unplugged their stereos. Bring that concept into the 21st century, and we might have signed off Facebook for the duration, or stopped playing video games.

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