Last Friday afternoon, while spending the weekend at my grandparents’ house, I pulled an old quilt out of a closet, put my kindle under my arm and set up shop in their backyard. I stretched out on the blanket, and allowed my legs to find the warm sunshine that broke through the towering trees that danced above. The earth must rotate a little slower in moments like these, as I rested on blades of green velvet. If this isn’t heaven, it has to be a sneak peek. And though I fully intended to read the book, I don’t think I got through one chapter. The rustling leaves and cool mountain air overtook me and for the next few hours, I took a nap outdoors.
Fast-forward three days to Easter Sunday. The worship leader said yesterday that though we celebrate the resurrection everyday, Easter Sunday is special. He’s right, I thought. We do celebrate the resurrection everyday. Then my mind said to my brain, “but… how?” That’s when it dawned on me. Everyone’s cool with Easter Sunday. Heck, we’ll even put on a tie, but what about Easter Monday? How do we celebrate that?
I love the scene of the angel standing at the empty tomb. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” the angel asks. That’s epic stuff, and a good excuse to put the choir on stage. We live that narrative one Sunday a year but what about every other day? I wonder what it was like when the stone rolled away, but truthfully, I’d settle for the encounter a few chapters later. I'd settle for eating fish on the beach with Jesus.
I just like the sound of that. Something about that story feels simple and comforting. Like a nap outdoors. No special effects needed. It was just a quiet morning on the beach, the combination of Jesus and the ordinary.
Maybe the key to celebrating Easter everyday is found at that intersection. A place where the divine meets the ordinary. If the stone really did roll away, the implications of Easter stretch far beyond my free ticket to heaven. It’s no longer just an event that will happen one day. Heck, it’s not just about victory over death. It is an invitation to life.
All too often, I spend my time ringing the bell on behalf of the big issues. How can we change the world? There are injustices to fight and causes to rally behind. Look, all of these are worthy pursuits, but spending an afternoon sleeping outside reminded me that there is good stuff in the seemingly trivial. It’s not about Sabbath. It’s about recognizing that the empty tomb changes the world one passing moment at a time.
The freedom that was found in the resurrection matters now. Easter reminds us that restoration is already underway. There is residue of redemption all over the place. It dangles from the trees like Spanish moss and echoes in the cadence of my baby girl’s laugh. Easter means that the world is slowly being made right again. Yes, people still die of cancer and earthquakes still level cities, but hope of another world is there. Like tiny blades of grass sprouting between cracks in concrete. We just have to pay attention.
Our generation may end up being known for caring about important things and crafting a better world. I’ve stood on stage and called young people to dream big for eight years now. I hope we do change the status quo. But, man, I hope we cling to the little beauties that sprout up in the process. I hope we are present in conversation. That we look up from our phones and look people in the eyes when they talk. And that we don’t let the summer pass by without eating a sno-cone. That we breathe in mountain air and get saltwater in our nostrils when we get the chance. That we’ll dance with the flower girl even when the reception dance floor is empty and that we always find time to take naps outdoors.
Whatever the pursuit, don’t be ashamed of embracing the simple, because these things count too. They are also caught up in the redemption of Christ. There is life in these elements, as tiny as they may be. I’m pretty sure it was NT Wright who said that Easter is God’s invitation to join him in restoring what was lost in Genesis 3. And while you have to move some big rocks to rebuild Eden, you also have to repaint a few rose petals. So let’s grab a paint brush, and make little, delicate strokes all over the place.
But first, a nap.