Wednesday, April 24, 2019

What Easter Means to Me . . . Now

I awoke on Sunday filled with excitement. Easter had arrived! It was time to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and the startling truth that love overcomes all, and I do mean all.

It’s not a story new to me, or to others. So why the excitement? What makes Easter different for me now?
This is my favorite icon. It is known as the Harrowing of Hades and depicts Jesus standing on the gates of hell. He’s pulling Adam and Eve out of their tombs.

This icon reminds me of something many churches have edited out of the Apostles’ Creed: Jesus descended into hell.

Several years ago, my life broke apart. I had become aware of cracks, but then one day came, and everything was suddenly very different. Only a couple of days later, I was at a conference and one of the speakers, Elaine Heath, talked about this icon and what it represents—that Jesus goes into hell and pulls us out of it. She said that this is the good news many need to hear because many are living in hell. Jesus comes into our worst circumstances and does not let go of us.

For me, this was news I needed to hear. It took some time for me to get completely out of the hell in which I found myself, but never did I feel abandoned there. Through the darkest days I knew the grasp of Jesus’ hand in mine. Though I walked through wilderness, experienced betrayal, false accusation and the pain of desertion by people I loved dearly, I knew Christ’s presence with me.

Over time I was pulled out of death and decay into new life. I experienced Easter. It has changed what Easter means to me. Before my own resurrection, Easter was a promise of something to come at the end of earthly life. But now I know it is more than that, not because someone told me but because I have lived it.

No matter what anyone tells you, no matter the shame and guilt others may try to shovel onto you as dirt is shoveled over a casket, you are not abandoned by Jesus. The one who knew betrayal and false accusation is the one who has gone into hell—for you. He holds your hand as he stands on the gates of hell and he will not let go. Easter is the proof that Christ’s love overcomes all.