Easter Sunday Morning

ByKevin Kuzma

Easter Sunday Morning

My children do not regularly read my blog, so I share this story not for them but hopefully for you because it has brought so much joy to my life over the last week. (My kids are at ages now in which they would be mortified that I would share something as innocent as this with you, so if you have occasion to see them around town this week, I ask that you please keep this between us.) On Easter Sunday morning, I somehow managed to awaken my three children from their slumbers at the “ungodly hour” of 4 a.m. so they could accompany me to church for the 6 a.m. sunrise service – a very brave and therefore “godly” task for a single father to undertake, right? My kids are Jesus followers, but they are not ordinarily church fans on Saturday evenings, Sunday mornings, holidays or any other time we grace a place of worship together. For them to rise at an hour when the world is still dark and they have another 3-4 hours of solid weekend sleep ahead is a miracle unto itself. But rise they did, with only a few complaints, and we loaded into my truck and made the drive to church. The interstate was barren at 5:30, as was the parking lot, and we easily made our way through the mostly silent building to the outdoor “porch” area. In the cool 50-degree temps, we found seats up front and sat on long slabs of rock facing a small stage and a rise of stairs where the pastor would deliver his message. The seating accommodations felt as though we were stepping back into antiquity, to a temple or amphitheater, which seemed appropriate for an Easter message. The service opened with an acoustic worship session – just one man and a guitar leading us in song. Then, at the pastor’s request, a few of the congregants stood and shared their testimonies, telling how they’d seen Jesus at work in their lives recently. And, then the pastor read the entire final chapter of the gospel of Luke, which, if you’ll recall, is the account in which Luke shares the story of the risen Jesus appearing alongside a group of men walking to Emmaus after the events of the crucifixion. This is a long portion of scripture to sit through, even for many regular church-going adults, let alone three teenagers dressed in their Sunday best. I kept stealing looks at them (seated to my left) as the pastor read to see how they were following along. The scripture story tells us that Jesus somehow supernaturally keeps the men in the dark about his identity, and pretends not to know what has transpired in Jerusalem over the course of the Passover celebration. These men, in dire sadness, recount everything from Jesus’ ministry to his death on the cross – and with his death, the loss of the man they thought was to be their Savior. In response, Jesus explains to them how is was necessary for the Savior to be rejected and die a lowly death to fulfill the old testament prophecies surrounding him. Then the Bible begins to reveal to us a very playful side of Jesus when, after walking with the men for some distance, Jesus acts as though he’s going to separate from the men and go on with his travels. But being so set on fire by his words, they beg him to stay with them. It’s during dinner that night that Jesus reveals himself to the men, which sets them sprinting back to Jerusalem to tell Jesus’s followers that he has risen. When the men find the apostles, they begin telling their story when Jesus appears among them. His followers apparently need some confirmation that Jesus is risen into a new body and is not in fact a ghost, and so he asks them for a piece of fish to show them that only those with bodies need nourishment. I always personally found these details somewhat bizarre for reasons I’m not sure I can fully explain. Here is the risen Jesus standing among his followers for the first time since they’ve seen him tortured, spit on, humiliated, and hung on a cross, and he asks them … for food. During this final part of the story, I turned to my left to take in my children’s reactions to this specific detail, and it’s then that I saw the broadest, prettiest, toothiest smile on the face of my 13 year-old daughter. This is, indeed, a very amusing part of the resurrection story and it reveals to us what could be interpreted as a lighthearted side of our Lord and Savior. My daughter’s reaction brought a smile to my face in the moment, and it does now as I write about this (along with a few tears, quite honestly.) I have been guilty the last few months of a fate that befalls many of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus. We seek to prescribe a deeper meaning to every word of scripture. With the best of intentions, we pour over Jesus’ words in hopes of finding in them something that can enlighten our perspective on a situation we are facing in our world, today. And we forget that there are moments like this, which of course are meaningful in a theological way, but also manage to make a little girl smile. They show his heart. They show his love. And they reveal to men like me where, unknowingly, we have closed our hearts to the best parts of our Lord.

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