It's hard to believe that Easter is already this Sunday! I'm not sure if it has been my school work that has kept me busy, or my job search, or just life in general, but 2011 is flying by!
One of the books I had the privilege of reading during this semester is Julian of Norwich's work Revelations of Divine Love. Julian lived in the 14th century and experienced several visions about God and faith while she was deathly ill. She came through that sickness and devoted her life to reflecting on the visions and their meanings. In the end, her main message is that God loves us more deeply and more intimately than we can know, and it is because of this deep love that Jesus was willing to endure all that He did on earth, even willingly dying on the cross for us. Julian even writes that she believes Jesus would do it again if necessary.
This week I've been reflecting on Holy Week and on Julian's writings. If we truly reflect on the events of Holy Week from the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, to the betrayal, to Jesus being found guilty, to his beatings and ultimately his death, to the amazing resurrection and joy of Easter, we experience a full range of emotions.
Celebration. Conviction. Sadness. Despair. Hopelessness. Hatred. Despise. Fear. Shock. Disbelief. Joy. Gratitude. Hope.
The story is graphic, terrible, and most certainly not G-rated. But then it makes a 180 and it's more joyful than anything we've ever encountered before. And it's for our joy and for God's joy as we are able to come before him again, and for our salvation - from the effects of sin and from ourselves, that Jesus willingly endured the graphic terror of his last days. All out of his deep love for us.
When we reflect on Easter, many times our minds are focused on the next age, when Jesus returns and his kingdom is fully realized, but I'm encouraged to remember that Jesus endured out of his current love for us, too. Not just for that future hope of being able to spend eternity with him, but for the joy of spending life with him now as well. Jesus has ushered in his kingdom, and we have the opportunity to help make that kingdom a reality by living full lives, filled with the overflowing love that He has for us in the present. We don't need to wait for eternity to begin living in the kingdom with Jesus. As we live the kingdom lives that Jesus died in order to give us, being his hands and feet in the here and now, we can look ahead with hope that one day when He returns, the kingdom we are currently helping to usher in will be fully realized.
Happy Easter! May you be blessed as you reflect on Christ's deep love for you, and may you have the courage and strength to pass that love on to others.