One of my favorite posts of the year is creating a list of ideas that I hope will help people experience Lent as a season of grace. (You can this year’s version here.)
It’s always one of the most popular posts as well, which reminds me that no matter where we worship or how long we’ve been doing this we’re all in this together, strugglers on the way trying our best to stay as close as we can to Jesus.
But Easter is a season, too, and I know how much I would love to experience and practice Resurrection not just on Easter Sunday but on every day of this season. I want to find a way to discover how to commit to practices that ground me in the truth of the Easter Gospel that love is stronger than death, that hope triumphs over fear and that life is more powerful than death. Just like Lent, I want my life to look differently after Easter than it did before. I want to be able to look back from the other side of Pentecost and be able to celebrate the ways I experienced love and hope and life in the power of the Risen Lord during these fifty days.
So, with that in mind, here are ten ways that might help you – and me – live in the light and hope and love of Easter right now.
Read the Story: Experience again the Resurrection on Easter morning and the many times and ways Jesus appears after the Resurrection to the disciples and to others. Passages to begin with include Luke 24:13-35, Luke 24:36-53, John 29:19-31, John 21:1-23, Matthew 28:16-20, Acts 9:1-19.
Take A Breath, Pray a Prayer: A friend of mine recently invited me to a challenge of praying the same phrase 1,000 times a day. It was a great gift and reminded me of the power of breath prayer, not just to help us connect with God but also to change the way we think and how we approach our lives. You might pray the same phrase for the whole season or you might try several out a week at a time. Phrases that might work well include – Christ is Risen, Love is Alive, Blessed Are Those Who Believe, God Makes All Things – Even Me – New. I’d love to hear phrases that you found helpful.
Celebrate God’s Presence: – The Resurrection declares once and for all that God does care and is involved in our lives and our world. Take time to reflect, maybe once a day if you can remember, about how you experienced God that day. The Examen, a spiritual practice I enjoyed during Lent, is a great way to become aware of all the ways God is at work in your life. Committing to this made me so much more aware of the ways God was at work in the ordinary course of my days. Our days are full of opportunities to glimpse and celebrate the light of God’s love in our lives.
Begin A Different Way: My friend Tish has written a beautiful book called Liturgy of the Ordinary (You should buy it here). One of my favorite parts of the book is when she talks about the spiritual practice of making her bed. Instead of beginning her day by checking her phone or email or getting updated on the latest thing to be outraged by, for Lent one year she decided to begin the day by making her bed and then spending a few moments of silence and solitude with God. How many ways might we experience Resurrection if instead of sprinting out of bed to accomplish all of our to-dos, we found some way, if only or a moment, to begin our day in gratitude for all God has given us? You might pray the Lord’s Prayer. You might read the Beatitudes. You might just say thank you for the gift of another day. This is one of the ways I’m going to try to celebrate Resurrection this Easter season.
Bring People To the Table: A good number of the Resurrection appearances remind us that Jesus likes to show up just in time for a meal. There’s just something about the way that grace is especially present at the table. So cook a meal and invite some friends over. Between dinner and dessert you might find a time to share about the places you and your friends are seeing and experiencing new life.
Try Something New: One of the most significant claims the Resurrection makes is that in Christ God is doing something new. So take a bold step and try something new in response to the truth that God is not done with you. We are launching a couple of new initiatives in our church right now, but it isn’t just for churches. Maybe now is the time to try out a new class at the gym, take an art or photography class, or recommit to writing that book that you know is inside of you. Whatever it is, just know that God is making all things, even you, new again.
Make Room: We all have issues and topics and people who take up too much space in our hearts and our minds. We spend more time and emotional energy than we would like to admit worrying about things we can’t change and situations we can’t control. One way to more fully experience Christ’s Resurrection is to be intentional about limiting the time we give to these concerns. Clearing out space from worry and creating room to celebrate God’s gifts and to give thanks for people and places that help you experience Resurrection can be a great gift this season. Bonus: Praying the Serenity Prayer can be a great daily practice to help you do this.
Stop Looking For The Living Among the Dead: It is easy for us, just like the women at the tomb, to search for life in places that only lead to death. That’s why Easter matters again and again – because we know too well the disappointment and heartbreak that comes from looking for life where it can’t be found. Take a good look at your life and try to give up something that is leading you away from the life God wants to give you. It might be that this Easter is the time to begin a program of recovery. Or it might be to step back from social media if that isn’t life giving for you. It might be time to take a break from a relationship or friendship that has grown toxic. I’ll bet it won’t take you long to figure out one thing in your life you could do without.
Proclaim Light in the Dark Places: We all know people who are struggling and having a hard time. Find a way to offer the hope and light of the Easter Gospel. It might be writing a card or making a phone call to someone you’ve meant to call for a long time. Visiting and connecting with friends and family who are homebound or in nursing homes is a great opportunity to celebrate God’s new life. Sometimes a 10-minute visit will do more than you can imagine – and not just for the person you are visiting.
Bless Places That Give New Life: There are organizations and groups all around us that are shining light in the darkness and helping people discover new life and live in hope. Pick one of them and make a donation to help them shine more light for more people. A few places in Knoxville and around us that my family and I believe in are Emerald Youth Foundation, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Volunteer Ministry Center, and Thistle Farms. But there are so many others. Find a cause near and dear to your heart and make a gift of light.
There are plenty more ways to watch for the light this Easter. These are just a few that came to my mind. I’d love to hear how you are celebrating and experiencing Resurrection this Easter.