I remember being very angry on Easter Sunday a few years ago. The guy I was dating at the time had a family tradition during Easter where all the kids would gather at their parent’s house and everyone would eat Easter brunch together. Steak. Mashed potatoes. Biscuits. The whole delicious shebang. The problem was, however, that brunch had a strict call time of 10:00 AM and church didn’t end until 10:30. We requested that the meal be pushed back an hour so that we could attend church and brunch, respectively. The request was, apparently, appalling.
I’m going to be honest. I didn’t handle it very well. I refuse to skip Easter service for a stupid brunch, I vowed. And the more I thought about it, the more I fumed about it. The whole reason there is even a brunch to “celebrate” is because of Jesus. That is the whole point of Easter! People can be so infuriating…
Earlier this week, I was asked what my most memorable Easter was and this was the memory that I conjured up. Out of all the sermons, services and communions, this was the one that had stood out to me the most. And that really bothered me.
There is something about pain and anger that’s just so dang difficult for us to let go of even when we know there is no point to it anymore. We carry these burdens with us day after day until years have past and our hearts are heavy. Instead of focusing on the message, the hope of Easter, I let the voices of my flesh get to me. And like a bitter fool, I carried it with me each year, never letting it go.
We all have memories that are hard to release from our mind. We let it eat us up like a monster and it takes root in our soul. When I am asked about memories for specific holidays, I don’t want the first stories that come to mind to be filled with anger, frustration and hurt. I want them to be funny and full of love, grace and joy.
And that’s the beauty of the “Easter story.” It began as a story that was filled with anger, frustration, hurt, and all of those negative things. People were left with questions. People felt lost. Vengeance was, I’m sure, on the thoughts of many of Jesus’ followers. But then, the rules changed. When Jesus resurrected, when He conquered the grave, He changed the game. And the story is immediately reversed into one full of love, grace and joy.
“Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Such a beautiful, simple invitation He gives us. Life is inevitably full of brokenness and mess-ups. We are probably holding a memory or will soon have one, that conjures up frustration and helplessness. But because Jesus gave us the ultimate end game, we don’t have to let it end here, in the hurt. We can redeem it, just the way He redeemed us, by laying our burdens down.
When I look back on that Easter, I remember feeling justified in my anger. I was a warrior, armed and ready to fight for Jesus’ honor. But I wish I had a taken a different approach that day.
I wish I had been less stubborn and more graceful.
I wish I had been less angry and more understanding.
I wish I had been more of Jesus and less of me.
Because that Sunday, I forgot the true meaning behind Easter Sunday.
That’s the beauty of Jesus calling the weary to Him. It encompasses all of us. Me. You. Them. We are all weary. Even the ones that go to church on Easter Sunday.