Easter changes everything.

Whether you’re a regular church-goer or not, there’s a good chance that you celebrated (or at least acknowledged) Easter this past Sunday.

The pastels were probably pulled out of the closet, Easter eggs stuffed and hidden, and fake, green grass is more than likely still hiding in the oddest corners and crevasses of your home.

For many of us, Easter holds not just a special meaning — but rather the cornerstone of our faith. Without the resurrection, there is no Easter. If the stone isn’t rolled away, it’s just another Sunday taking care of things around the house. But what I’ve come to celebrate just as much as Easter is Good Friday.

The dark, somber, and depressing theme that surrounds the Friday before Easter made me wonder for a while what the whole draw was for me.

But I came to realize that the power of the resurrection and the sacrifice of the cross are inseparable. It’s simple to see that you can’t have one without the other. Together, they are the PB&J of our faith.

But why?

I was 8 years old when my grandma died. To my knowledge it was the first funeral I ever went to. I’ll never forget the fear I felt towards seeing her laying in her casket, knowing it was my grandma who laid there — the same grandma who would chain smoke at the dining room table and had that hacking cough that sounded like death (no pun intended).

But at the same time, it wasn’t her in that casket. She was so lifeless and still. She (for lack of better terms) was dead. Like, dead, dead. The idea of that as an 8 year old boy was fascinating to me.

But the longer the funeral lasted, the more bold I became in touching her hands. I specifically remember feeling how stiff and cold they were. My confidence reached an all time high as I began encouraging my relatives and loved ones to experience for themselves how cold she really was. “No, really — touch her! She feels like she’s been in a refrigerator!”

For those of us who know Jesus and His grave conquering power, my grandma’s stiff hands serve as such a perfect reminder of how cold and lifeless our old lives once were.

Before I pursued Jesus with everything I had, there were several areas in my own life that were as dead as dead could get. No purpose, no direction, no life — just dead.

But it was that spiritual death that helped me experience the great power of God when he brought those areas back to life. As one author puts it, “Without the darkness, there is no light.”

It was the LOVE of God that sent Jesus to the cross, then the POWER of God that raised Him on that third day. And it’s both that God offers to those of us who put our faith in Him, and Him alone.

As we move forward from the story and hope of Easter, it’s my hope that we all continue to celebrate this truth — God asks us not to raise our own lives up from the grave, but offers us a resurrected life through the power that raised Christ from His.

• Colin Noonan is director of youth ministries at Mountain View Lutheran Church in Ahwatukee. Reach him at cnoonan@mvlutheran.org.

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