"It's Friday....but Sunday's comin'!" This phrase was made popular by a speaker named Tony Campolo years ago. Campolo was a guest speaker at my college and he was riveting. I love this message! In his words... It's Friday....you feel stuck...out of luck...out of hope...the world is telling you that you won't amount to anything...you feel worthless...as things have been, so they shall be....things seem dark and gloomy....Jesus is dead on the cross....But hold on! Sunday's comin'!
We all know what happened on Sunday....Easter morning! Christ arose...to bring us newness of life...hope to keep believing...strength to keep on going...joy in the journey...peace amidst the storms...simply faith. My dad loved calling the gospel the "good news." When a new paraphrase of the New Testament came out years ago called "Good News for Modern Man", he bought us each a copy. He believed every Sunday morning sermon should end with the "good news"...the hope we have in Christ.
As Easter approaches, many things come to mind. In addition to my childhood memories with Mom and Dad...special Easter dresses...Easter baskets...singing "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" and "I Know That My Redeemer Lives"...ham and hot cross buns...and in later years, singing in Easter Cantata's...special memories with my own sons... I always think of my Aunt Essie.
During my years in college in St. Paul, Minnesota, I usually spent spring break with my Uncle Bob and Aunt Essie. Uncle Bob was a Lutheran pastor in a small town in western Wisconsin, just about a 2 hour drive away. Aunt Essie was the hub of the parsonage, even though she often worked outside their home. The week before Easter was always a busy one, with a Maundy Thursday service, Good Friday service, and Easter Sunday services. Aunt Essie was at work in her blue and white kitchen, baking "bunny" buns and hot cross buns, making egg dioramas, and setting up her Easter tree (a branch with chocolate foil wrapped eggs). There was music to practice on the piano or organ since she usually accompanied the congregation and soloists for the services. She was an awesome cook, so food preparation was always happening too. Her daughter and two sons had beautiful voices so there was always singing of some sort going on....I loved it all! Aunt Ess had this amazing way of looking at you with a warm smile and twinkle in her eye that made you feel special. In fact, she often verbalized that too...."You are so special," she would say....and you could tell she meant it.
Fittingly, today is Aunt Ess's birthday....Happy Birthday, Aunt Essie! I'm so thankful to be a recipient of your love and your faith in action. Aunt Essie and Uncle Bob always were and still are full of life...the "good news." On Easter Sunday morning, Uncle Bob would say emphatically, "He's risen!" and the congregation would respond, "He's risen indeed!"
I hope this Easter weekend will be so much more that Easter egg hunts....bunnies....and baskets. I hope that you will make time to hear the "good news" of Easter....that He is risen and desires to give each one of us a new life....a life that matters and makes a difference because of His presence.
Tony Campolo ended his famous message in this way:
"People of God, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. You can have it all, and all you have to do is say is Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me. Enter into my life. Christ, I not only believe in you, I'm not only going to be a believer, I'm going to be a disciple. I'm going to be filled with your presence, used by you to bring hope and faith to the rest of the world and then the world will get the Good News. Are you ready? Are you ready? The Good News is, it's Friday, but… SUNDAY'S COMING!