Easter was yesterday and it signaled an amazing re-birth for me. Events happened these past 40 days of Lent which were answers to my daily prayers. Things didn’t happen exactly as I had thought, but God is all-wise and has proven again that all I need to do is trust Him. He shows me over and over again how much He cares for me and protects me from harm if I will wait patiently for Him to act and start each day with prayer, asking only how I can serve Him that day.
I don’t want to lose this feeling of re-birth and freedom! Yesterday, I was joyous that the Lord has risen; we can’t call ourselves Christians unless we believe that He has overcome death and was resurrected.
But, Easter isn’t just a day, it’s a way of life for every Christian.
I’m joining countless others in experiencing JOY for the 50 days of Easter by following a new blog, LIVING INTO JOY. Many churches have daily Lenten devotionals, but this year my church, St. George’s Episcopal Church here in Nashville, has started a different practice, EASTER DEVOTIONALS. These daily posts are written by clergy and lay people and will inspire us to LOOK FOR JOY in our lives during the 50 days of Easter. You can follow the blog or sign up to receive a daily email by clicking on this link: LIVING INTO JOY. Please forward this post to friends who may also want to focus on JOY for the next 50 days.
And, please leave COMMENTS on the blog! We want to know how you are experiencing JOY in your life, too!
How are you going to spend the FIFTY Days of EASTER? I plan to be JOYOUS and help others to see the beauty of God all around us. Won’t you join me in finding the JOY in our lives and sharing it with each other?
Your Sister in Christ,
Why I’m Practicing at Easter, by the Rev. Timothy Jones
— APRIL 8, 2012
It began when I couldn’t go back to sleep. Now that I’m well into middle age, it seems to happen more often: I awaken at 2 or 3 am and lay in bed wide awake for an hour, my mind instantly alert and working over the day’s triumphs or disappointments.
When it happened again that spring morning last year, I found myself thinking about Easter. And not just thinking, but puzzling. Why wasn’t I making more of this holy season that should rivet us with the good news of Jesus’ resurrection?
Easter Sunday had already come and gone. But in our Episcopal church tradition, we were still saying that we lived squarely in the Easter season. Just as there are forty days in Lent, we were celebrating Easter for fifty.
But it struck me as curious that I had acted more aware of Lent and its penitential heaviness than I had of Easter with its resurrection delight. We had adopted Lenten disciplines. But now that Easter had ushered in the season of freshness and life, why did I not set up camp in the foothills of resurrection joy? And getting more practical: What about a regular Easter practice done with all the devotion of a Lenten discipline?
So my pre-dawn wrestling had me asking myself, what does it mean for my life that Jesus was raised from the dead? In what ways do I (and can I) follow what a poem of Wendell Berry urged: “Practice resurrection”? (The phrase suggests that it might indeed take “practice.”)
Other ages have lived more vividly in this reality. By God’s great mercy, wrote Peter the apostle in the New Testament, “we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Paul the apostle also testified to the power that raised Jesus from death as a reality for the present moment. He called it “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (Ephesians 1:19-20). No wonder that morning I found myself too excited to go right back to sleep in the early hours of day.
So I’m asking myself again: What difference does Jesus’ resurrection make? What could it look like now that I know that the risen Lord resides in our world? What might be done to make that remarkable reality more vividly present when morning comes again?
– Rev. Timothy Jones
A note about today’s author:
The Rev. Timothy Jones is Senior Associate Rector of St. George’s. He also directs the St. George’s Institute of Church and Cultural Life. Tim is the author of several acclaimed books on the spiritual life, including The Art of Prayer: A Simple Guide to Conversation with God; Awake My Soul, Practical Spirituality for Busy People; Workday Prayers; and Nurturing Your Child’s Soul. He served as general editor of the Upper Room Spiritual Formation Bible and compiled and edited a book of unpublished writings of the late Henri Nouwen, entitled Turn My Mourning into Dancing. Timothy is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and the School of Theology at the University of the South, Sewanee. He also served as Associate Rector and leader of a university campus ministry at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He and his wife, the Rev. Jill Zook-Jones, are the parents of three children.