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Little Easters Everywhere

Little Easters Everywhere

by Beth Stoddard

We are just a few days away from Easter Sunday – recognized by secular America with bunnies and spring break, and embraced by Christians with church attendance and resurrection songs. It’s a complicated holiday, like so many events that fuse an amalgamation of pagan, secular, and religious beliefs. 

For me, as a follower of Jesus, Easter is a time to reflect on the most absurd, incomprehensible, incredible facet of the faith I hold: Jesus died, and then lived again. The resurrection remains something I can’t quite wrap my head around; it’s an annual reminder that my faith is more than simple assent to dogma or doctrine. It is supernatural; it is miraculous. It is divine.

In his book Discovering Our Spiritual Identity, Trevor Hudson expands the relevance of Easter as something more than a single event, celebrated in its fullness only when we recognize the reality of our humanity – broken, difficult, full of sorrow, despair, and sin. Hudson reflects on the very real wounds of crucifixion evident on the hands and feet of the resurrected Jesus, and writes:

“…we see that suffering and evil are real, love often gets crucified, and people do get hurt. That is the non-negotiable reality of the world that we share.”

He plumbs a deeper meaning: the resurrection as further evidence of the goodness of a God who seeks to bring light and hope and life in the middle of darkness and death. 

And he invites us to look for evidence of this light and hope all around us, all the time. He uses the term “little Easter” – moments to be found any time we bump up against the beautiful demonstration of life out of death. 

I have had many “little Easters.”

The resonance of Easter changes for me every year, because I am changing, every year. Early in the planning process for these special services, someone always quips, “It’s the same story we told last year…everybody knows how it ends! How do we make it fresh?” 

We make it fresh because we come to it differently – grown, changed. This year, I carry the reminders of the “little Easters” I have experienced most recently – those moments when joy and sorrow, need and prayer, despair and hope, have collided in the reality of my bent, weak body before God in prayer. I have tasted and seen the beautiful surprise of “new possibilities for life and healing” that Hudson describes, and they have marked me in unforgettable ways. 

This recent experience: My youngest daughter, pregnant with her first child, called with difficult news. An ultrasound indicated problems with the pregnancy; her little boy would likely be born with some sort of disability. As a friend later described it, my grief was “two layers deep” – for my daughter and her husband, as they found their way through heartbreak and fear into faith and acceptance, and for my grandchild, and whatever difficult road lay ahead for him. My heart was heavy, my prayers were unceasing, and the aura of a love filled with concern and anxiety hovered nearby, constantly. 

During a music rehearsal for our For You event, the worship team worked through a song that’s become a favorite for me. As I listened – ostensibly with a critical ear, to coach and give feedback as needed, I found myself caught up in the power of the music, the resonance of the lyric. The song – “I Speak Jesus” – is centered on the power of Jesus – not our faith in him, but in him. In the same sort of supernatural power centered in the resurrection. 

Your name is power / your name is healing

Your name is life

Break every stronghold / shine through the shadows

Burn like a fire

The band needed no constructive criticism – they were on point and well-prepared – so I sunk into the moment, closed my eyes and sang along from the front row. 

I believe this: I believe that my faith is centered in something supernatural and miraculous, beyond my understanding. The name of Jesus represents the kindness and goodness of a Creator I’ll never fully appreciate or understand this side of eternity. So these specific lyrics pull me gently along the river of not-knowing, distilling everything down into little more than the name: Jesus. 

Shout Jesus from the mountains

Jesus in the streets

Jesus in the darkness over every enemy

Jesus for my family –

I was interrupted by a force so strong, so powerful, so encompassing, that I could hardly breathe. 

Jesus for my family.

As I sang along during a band rehearsal, I “spoke Jesus” for my family. And I am confident, convinced, that he responded. My soul was filled with a sense of peace and surety that filled every bit of me – that changed me, in that moment. 

Every anxiety, every desperate prayer for my daughter, for my son-in-law, for my unborn grandchild – each bit, every thread – all of it was gathered up and lifted from me. As bizarre as it sounds as I recount it, I felt it leave. 

And what replaced it was this assurance, in a Voice I know to be my Creator: I’ve got this. It’s going to be fine.’

It was powerful – emotionally, and physically. I was overwhelmed, bent over that front row chair, incapable of speaking or singing as the music continued to wash over me. It ended with this unrelenting, undeniable melodic truth that resonated throughout my soul:

I just want to speak the name of Jesus 

Over every heart and every mind

’Cause I know there is peace within your presence

I speak Jesus

It was a “little Easter”. 

Hudson writes:

“Just about any time we are surprised with new possibilities for life and healing in the midst of brokenness and decay, there is a little Easter that gives us a glimpse of the resurrection power of God’s love made manifest in the crucified and risen Jesus.”

God’s love made manifest; life and healing. New possibilities – life and healing. 

Life.

I experienced all of that personally, privately, and powerfully. Five days later, my grandson was born. Diagnosed with Down Syndrome, he is different, and perfectly formed. Beautiful, with curious eyes and tiny, strong hands. A steadfast heart, healthy lungs. Loved unreservedly by his parents, his extended family, and his Creator. The name of Jesus, spoken over him and to him; the breath of God, coursing through him. His parents named him Shia, long before his birth – “God’s gift.”

Everything is spiritual, I think, and all these things – from the resurrection of Jesus to the insistent invasion of love into our bent and broken world, from the melody that holds simple lyrics to the supernatural force that speaks truth to open ears – are reminders that wherever there is darkness or fear, light and life are waiting right outside the perimeter. They will always find their way in; the power of the resurrection means we can walk, wounded; we can trust, doubtful; we can live, imperfect but never alone. That is God’s gift to all of us. 

May you experience the fullness and love of the resurrected Jesus this Easter Sunday- and again and again, in countless “little Easters” throughout the days and weeks to come. 

Categories: Faith  

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Written by

Beth Stoddard

Follower of Jesus. Wife. Mom. Grammy. Musician. Teacher. Pastor. Easily comforted by chocolate, coffee or watermelon.

Published March 28, 2024


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