Today is resurrection Sunday.
On this day we celebrate that Christ rose from the dead. We celebrate the gates of hell were breached for all time and eternity. We celebrate that death was destroyed and eternal life became possible. We celebrate that the chains of sin have been broken and freedom reigns.
We celebrate God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.
Could there be any more important reason to celebrate, to dance, to party, to wake each day with a smile, to live each moment with joy, to face the future with unshakeable hope?
I don’t think so. But there was a time when I lived in the valley of the shadow of death. As did you. The Bible bluntly says we were, “dead in our trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1) In the words from Dante’s Divine Comedy, “I woke to find myself in a dark wood.”
We had lost our way.
And then, by God’s grace, my spiritual stupor ended on March 28, 1971. For ten years I had thought I was really living, but in reality, I was dying, dying the slow death of alienation from God, exploitation of others, and shackled by a false self that protected my ego at all costs.
I bragged of being an atheist one day, an agnostic next day, and a hedonist both days. In my perversions, I told friends I wanted to, “live fast, love hard and die young.”
I had cauterized my soul.
But then, one day when I least expected it, Christ ambushed me with his love, his truth, his forgiveness. In the words of that old 18th century Charles Wesley hymn,
Long my imprisoned spirit lay. Fast bound in sin and nature’s night.
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray. I woke, the dungeon flamed with light.
My chains fell off. My heart was free. I rose, went forth and followed thee.
Some years back, I was listening to CBC’s Sunday afternoon, Cross Country Check-up phone-in program. The topic for callers that day was, “What does your religion mean to you?”
Now there’s a worthwhile question to ponder. I thought back over the decades of a life lived seeking to follow Christ, albeit imperfectly; and then I phoned in to share the three things my religion does for me.
First, my faith in Christ has satisfied my philosophical quest for answers to the deep questions of life and death.
- Why does something exist and not nothing, and why is the universe so ordered?
- Why do humans have a sense of justice, of morality, or aesthetic appreciation, and of love transcending biology?
- Why is humankind so noble, while simultaneously so full of moral aberration?
- Why is humankind everywhere so seized with the question of life after death?
Second, my faith in Christ has satisfied my need for a moral compass, a life roadmap, a guidebook for the soul that informs how I should live and die in this world. The Bible,
- Shows me how to live above my natural self-centred instincts.
- It shines the brilliance of Christ’s virtuous life as a guiding light into my soul.
- It lays waste the deception that life is about pursuing personal peace, pleasure, and affluence above all.
- It reveals the way of abundant living and eternal life, now and in the age to come.
Finally, my faith in Christ has satiated my deep spiritual hungers and thirsts:
- To know that we have meaning, are loved and are of ultimate value.
- To know that my sins are forgiven, and I am accepted by God.
- To know that life does not simply end at death, that my candle is not extinguished.
- To know that the essential me will continue to live a purposeful existence throughout time and eternity.
I have no words to adequately thank God for his indescribable gift of salvation purchased for me through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus, the Christ.
This resurrection morning, I think back to my very first Easter Sun Rise service as we stood on the hills overlooking the Lumsden Valley outside of Regina, SK, just one week after my chains of sin and death had fallen away.
The bright sun slowly rose, warming the eastern landscape. It was the best sunrise I have ever seen, for a new day had just dawned in my heart. The fog had blown away. The Sun of Light and Life had broken through. He had stirred the slumbering chord strings of my heart.
I was singing; oh, how I was singing. And I’m still singing…
“The sun comes up. It’s a new day dawning. It’s time to sing your song again.
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me,
Let me be singing when the evening comes.”
– Matt Redman, 10,000 Reasons –
Today is Resurrection Sunday. He is risen. Let’s sing!
With eternal gratitude to Christ, my Lord.