One of my favorite weeks of every year is at the beginning of March. For it is then when a magnificent event happens: the IAHSAA State Basketball Tournament. I look forward to it every year as I go down to watch as many games as possible.
Usually, that results in a lot of live basketball watching for this guy. It really is one of the highlights of my year.
This year was different though. On the Friday before the tournament began, I received a phone call from my mom letting me know that my grandma was in the hospital, and she wasn’t doing well. She died Sunday, March 3.
I still went down to some basketball games that week, but it wasn’t the same. It definitely will not go down as one of my favorite weeks this year.
The realities of death are hard. Losing the people we love from our lives is hard. We all know death is inevitable and will happen to the people we love. Yet when it finally comes, we are never quite prepared for it to actually happen.
My grandma was a huge part of my life. We saw each other every single day as she was always there, working with our family dairy operation. She taught me many of the life lessons that made me the person I am today.
It is still hard for me to accept she is gone as she has always just been there in my life. Now she is gone, and that is hard.
Which is why, this year especially, I so desperately need Easter. For Easter is so much more than just eggs and little clumps of sugar disguised as chicks. It is more than your best pastel clothing. It is more than even getting together with family.
Those are all fun add-ons to Easter but at its core, Easter is about one thing and one thing only: Resurrection. It is about the disciples’ finding an empty tomb, for Jesus was no longer there.
Jesus was alive, out in the world. Jesus had done the impossible, beaten death at its own game. That is what Easter is about. Jesus’ grand victory over death. A victory that was not a one-off or a fluke. A victory that Jesus extends to all people.
At Easter we are not just remembering and celebrating Jesus’ victory over death but our own victory as well. For Christ has beaten death once and for all. Which means that death is not the end for my grandma. That in Christ she has life. Real life. Life that is eternal.
My grandma may not be around down here anymore, but she is still alive with Christ. Someday we will meet again. and she will give me one of her big old grandma hugs.
Until that day, though, I need Easter. I need Easter because death is hard for those of us left behind. I need Easter because I need to know that death is not the end. I need Easter because I need hope. Hope that only Easter can give.
So this Easter, as you are hunting for eggs and eating way too much sugar, remember that a couple of thousand years ago, a guy named Jesus walked out of a tomb. Remember that death has been defeated. Remember the power of resurrection.
Remember the life that is in Christ. Take time to really celebrate what Easter is all about.
If you want to celebrate with me, we will be celebrating Easter at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church Sunday, April 21 at 9 a.m. Come by and rejoice in the great victory Christ has won for you and for all the world!
The Rev. Jeremy Winter is pastor of the Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Perry.