Beautiful Easter sidewalk chalk drawing created by our granddaughter, Emalynn.
Today is Easter Monday, a day when many Christians are feeling the afterglow of Resurrection Sunday. In Orthodox Eastern Christian traditions, the Monday following Easter is called “Bright” or “Renewal” Monday and is an important extension of the Easter celebration.
Early spring in North Idaho this year hasn’t been especially nice. Too many gloomy days, cold fronts, and spring snowstorms for my liking have passed through our region. The weather has seemed to match the mood of the nation as folks have been forced into isolation, and concern about brighter days has at times felt grim.
A few days ago, news about the Covid-19 pandemic seemed a bit more hopeful. The curve seemed to be flattening. (I’ve never considered a flattened curve before, but nowadays, I look forward to hearing that news.)
The weather that day complimented the news. It felt as if spring truly was going to arrive. Thinking like lots of other people who call Coeur d’Alene home, my husband Ron and I headed to the Centennial Trail for a nice, long walk.
Everything about that bright afternoon spoke joy. The sun shone brightly. The lake was brilliant blue. Families rode bicycles along the trail. Little ones, donned in helmets, riding tiny, wobbling two-wheeler bikes, made me smile, reminding me of our four-year-old grandson who I’ve been missing lately. Dogs walking their owners seemed beyond delighted with an array of new scents.
We stopped to rest and soak in sunshine on a bench overlooking the lake. At the end of that bench was a painted rock, left lovingly for a passerby. On the rock was a verse of Scripture with words spoken by Jesus shortly before his dreadful death: “These things I have spoken to you that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)
Many have said last week was our nation’s worst week in history because of the many coronavirus deaths which occurred. My heart aches for the thousands of people grieving loved ones lost to the devastating disease as well as for the millions whose lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic.
Our nation’s “worst” week correlated with another dreadful week. A week known as Holy Week, during which Jesus—perfect in every way—was misunderstood, betrayed, rejected, ridiculed, beaten, and subjected to the cruelest of deaths.
Within the sadness of Holy Week, however, Jesus planted the seed of joy—joy that would remain despite whatever the circumstances. Full joy!
The psalmist declared:
…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Psalms 30:5).
Certainly, that truth comes alive for Christians on Resurrection Sunday when the empty tomb displays ‘full joy!’ My prayer and belief are that it will also come alive for our nation as the inconvenience and tragedy of Covid-19 becomes history.
Back to that rock we discovered on the bench by the lake. For a while, feeling grateful for its joyful message, I held it in my hand as we continued our walk. Then, I deposited it on a different bench so another passerby could receive the blessing and encouragement.
Christ Who Brings Joy,
Thank you for the hope of joy you give
Despite dismal days and dreadful circumstances.
Remind me often that FULL JOY is an ongoing message of the cross.