Easter Hope for March’s Madness
By Greg Wooten, Pastor
Hope Chapel Church of the Nazarene

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[March 19, 2020]  I'm fascinated by patterns – comparing and contrasting one thing with another or looking for ways in which things that otherwise have little or nothing to do with each other still manage to share some kind of basic meaning or commonality.

Chalk it up to years of training in Biblical interpretation or maybe just too much time watching Sesame Street as a child (Can’t you just hear the tune, “One of these things is not like the others. Which one is different? Do you know?”) There are a few things happening, in our community, our nation, and our world that have captured my attention recently. On the surface, they are nothing alike, but a look a little closer and I believe you’ll see a shared underlying truth.

- Storms blew through Nashville a couple of weeks ago that caused devastation, loss of life, and disrupted the pulse of a major US city.

- Road construction crews are back on the job in the Midwest. Of course, a joke very often told about Illinois, Michigan, and neighboring states is that we only have 2 seasons: winter and road construction.

- Our local Wal-Mart has been undergoing an extensive re-fit and shuffling of merchandise, making it challenging to know where to locate anything. For several weeks now I’ve seen plenty of impatient and frustrated customers and equally frustrated and frazzled store associates. And I’ve chuckled more than once when I’ve heard a friendly, but on-the-brink cashier ask kindly, “Did you find everything you were looking for today?”

- Of course, without question, the elephant in the room demands consideration as well. COVID-19 has been in the news for a while, but as confirmed cases get closer and closer to home panic has ensued. Toilet tissue is hard to come by. Schools are closed. Events are cancelled. Churches are worshiping virtually in order to promote social distancing. Stadiums are empty. The word ‘madness’ should be referring to tournament play right now, but it seems to be describing every other aspect of life instead.

Ready to play the game with me? What do these things have in common? Did you say that they are all disruptive? Annoying? Inconvenient? If you did, you were right. But if you squint really hard, I think there is an even better point of similarity – they are all temporary.  Some are merely bothersome, some are truly dangerous and devastating, but none of them will last forever. Someone once wisely said that the most precious words in the Bible are, “… and it came to pass.” It didn’t come to stay. It may seem like an eternity, but trust me, it’s not.

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Do you know what is forever? Life. We have all been crafted by God in a weird and wonderful admixture of the elements of the earth and His very own breath. We were made to be a precious reflection of Him. But from the beginning, humanity has insisted on being its own god, spiritually distancing ourselves from the very source of life. Tragically, that means when our dust, our mortal component, dies off there is no way to be brought back to Him. Life goes on, but forever a separated, tortured, and fear-filled shadow of what it was meant to be; a storm, so to speak, that never ends.

The great news is that God sent someone to rescue us – His very own Son! Jesus’ death has made life possible once again because He is risen, the one and only conqueror of death! There is a way out. There is hope. The Bible says that Heaven and Hell are forever. If there is one thing that our current temporary situation should teach us it’s this: now is the time to prepare for that ultimate reality.

Those who put their faith in the living Lord Jesus Christ will have nothing to fear. I pray you choose to accept His freely offered gift of life beyond every temporal, and eternal, terror. In other words, I pray you choose to celebrate Easter with your own resurrection. St. Paul said it like this:

“Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.”  - Ephesians 2:1-5 NLT

That sounds like a reason for a Happy Easter to me!

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