I am SO glad that there’s more to Easter than a bunny, eggs, lots of candy, and pretty flowers! While I love decorating Easter Eggs (and HIDING them!), I’m not that fond of eating countless eggs after Easter, and I’m OVERLY fond of candy, which can bring its own problems! There’s not only the challenge of the sugar crash after eating too much candy, but the post-holiday let down, if that’s all it was about. But though Jesus’ resurrection is at the end of all the Gospels, it is the BEGINNING of the rest of the New Testament, and the beginning of this movement we now call the Church, still going after 2000 years!
We commonly call the first book of the New Testament after the Gospels simply “Acts.” But such a shortened name dilutes what it is about. The book is properly called “The Acts of the Apostles,” and traces the beginnings of the Church of which we are now still a part millennia later. This Sunday we will be looking at the beginnings of this Church movement, which starts with Peter proclaiming the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, with a brief summary at Acts 2: 24—“But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.”
Easter is not just an annual landmark for the beginning of Spring (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), but marks and celebrates our beginnings of being incorporated into the living Body of Christ IN the world! As we go through the beginnings of the Church in the coming weeks, we’ll see that the Early Church dealt with an even more extended and deadly “quarantine” at the hands of those who persecuted followers of Jesus, putting many to death, torture and imprisonment.
Yet that time of “quarantine” did not weaken, but STRENGTHENED the budding new movement of the Church, demonstrating that it was not only impossible for death to hold Jesus in its power, but impossible for even death to hold the people of God in its power either!
Jesus and countless Church leaders over the centuries often emphasize the essential importance of prayer both in personal spiritual growth, and in the life of the Church. Whether by more time or desperation, people are often driven to a stronger reliance on prayer in times of quarantine and difficulty. While our current limitations get in the way of many ordinary facets of life, they certainly don’t get in the way of prayer, and in some ways, makes more of a focus on prayer even easier! Perhaps that is a hidden blessing God is working to coax out of this time of difficulty.
So while it is easy to get too much of a good thing with our Easter candy, prayer is so much better, because we can never get too much of the good thing of prayer! Keep on praying!