[originally posted: TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2012]
". . . if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:17
And yet, it was surprisingly difficult to find any mention of the resurrection. As I combed through my collection, I would turn to a song that I expected to be perfect Easter music, and find no mention of Christ rising from the dead, instead, I found nothing but the blood. Lots of talk about His blood, death, and the cross, or about Christ's second coming. But there was this gap that leapt over the resurrection. Here are just a few examples of songs, which I love, that seemed Easter-y, but are missing this resurrection piece to give you a sense of what I mean:
Nothing but the blood of Jesus. That title makes the point for me.
Lord I lift your name on High. He dies for our sins, and ascends "to the sky"
My Jesus, I love thee And perhaps this is one example that makes my point most clearly. Verse one: I love you because you're my Savior. Verse two: I love you because you died for me. Verse three: I love you even when I suffer. Verse four: I'll love you in heaven.
The cross, the death, the blood are all crucial components to the story, of course. And songs about these pieces are good to sing in church. Part of the point of Easter was that there had to be death in order for there to be life. And yes, I love Jesus for alot of good reasons, but what about "I love you because your resurrection is what gives me hope for my resurrection?" Paul tells us, up there in 1 Corinthians that this whole resurrection bit is pretty key.
But since so many songs seem to keep jumping over this piece, it got me wondering. Is it easier to swallow the idea of a savior who came and laid down his life out of love for us than a Lord who rose from the grave?
On the one side, He is humbled low, we can coo and aww at his cute baby-ness in the manger, we can even gasp and shed tears over the utter weakness of being subjected to humiliating crucifixion. I wonder if that part allows a sweet pity in us. Perhaps it is a pity that can inspire affection, appreciation, maybe enough guilt to get us to make some sacrifices for other people. But what if He really did rise from the dead?
If He could conquer death, frankly, to me, He goes from cute, sweet, weepy, weak little baby Jesus to terrifying God that can not be stopped, even by death itself, like a monster in a movie that you keep shooting at but just keeps coming at you. I can secretly consider myself above the Jesus on the cross (though that is hard to admit and I didn't realize it until now), but once He rises from the grave, as NO ONE else has ever done before, then I have to take a knee, bow, cower before a mind boggling power.
Perhaps even more uncomfortable than that is that if He rose from the dead and got right back to work as the first born of the new creation (He didn't spend the next 40 days until Pentecost just sitting around singing praise songs to His awesome self, waiting until He could get away again), and I choose to accept His gift of life in me, to become a co-heir of the Kingdom, that means I have to get to work too. I can't just accept His sacrificial love, I have to then allow all things in my life to be transformed into action, into love, into behavior that makes a contribution to the Kingdom of God. That's that "losing my life" He mentioned (Matthew 16:25), and it is hard.
So Easter ceases to be a day to say, "Oh, well wasn't that nice" and instead a day to remember it is time to get to work, with both great gravity and great hope. It becomes an opportunity to look not just to the cross, but to the empty tomb. To turn to a man, mistaken for a gardener, and break into a sprint and shout from the roof tops that hope is here. Lent is my season of pruning, and Easter becomes a season [not just a day] of growth. A season of bursting forth from buds, sloughing off encasings, and stretching, reaching out towards the sun to radiate with beauty. It is hard and it is good.
Seems to me that what makes the hard possible is precisely Christ's resurrection. In the sense that this act brought new life into our world, life that is capable of more; and in the sense that as we look to His rising, as we meditate on Easter Sunday, and all that it means, we have such great hope. Hope shifts paradigms. Hope empowers.
So in these last few days of Lent, can you help me out? Can you help me finish strong? I find music such an effective way to meditate on truth that needs to sink in deep. I need these songs that speak to the resurrection to be equipped to celebrate and live in an Easter season. So I need your help to find some good ones. So far, between my own searching and the help of a few friends and family, I have managed to find the songs listed (and lyrics linked to) below.
O Glorious Day [thanks for this tip, Mom!]
Christ is Risen [thanks Thomas-Steele (nice to meet you by the way) and Mom!]
You’re Beautiful [thanks, Emily!]
Up From the Grave He Arose [thanks, Grammy!]
Will you accept this challenge to seek out the risen Christ? It's harder than you would think! Can you help me add some good songs to this list the explicitly celebrate His rising from the dead on Easter morning? Share this with a friend or your worship leader, see if they can help me out too. Ready, set, GO!