I have never had a surprise party. I have never been to a surprise party. My only frame of reference for such an event is television. Usually on TV there is some convoluted plan that goes awry and challenges the surprise that creates the “comedy” in “situation comedy.” In the end it all works out and there is a celebration for the person who is the focus of the party.
Surprises can be fun, enjoyable, and exciting. Like surprise parties, other surprises can be great as well. I recently had someone pay back a debt I had basically forgotten about and written off. I love it this time of year when the forecast says it’s going to be 45 and it turns out the be sunny and 65! Some surprises are wonderful!
Not every surprise is a positive of course. Sometimes life is moving along, from one day into the next and we receive a lab report that brings a surprise illness. We have heard of such things in other people’s lives, but now it’s us and the surprise is very unsettling. The dreaded 2:00 A.M. phone call from a friend or a child or the police is a surprise none of us want to receive. So again, not every surprise is a positive experience.
But for those who visited the tomb of Jesus that first Easter morning, the surprise they received was life changing. For them, it transformed Friday’s worst news ever, into a joy they could never have imagined. It pulled back the cloud of uncertainty and fear, and opened the door to fresh hope and eternal possibilities. The Easter surprise for those who first went to the tomb was more than they could take in, in that moment. But as the reality sank in through the events of the days and weeks ahead, Easter’s astonishment became a brand new perspective on everything!
I wonder what might be our Easter surprise this year? I wonder where we might find hope as we celebrate the empty tomb in our churches and our lives this year? Most of us have places of struggle, places of doubt, places where we are challenged by life’s circumstances. What would it mean for us to allow the promise of Easter to pervade those areas of our life and to fill them with new hope and potential?
The Easter surprise is real. It is the core of our faith. It lifts us to possibilities never imagined without it. I invite you to let the message of Easter capture you anew this year. I invite you to allow it to surround you and all the challenges you are facing just now. I invite you to be surprised by the power and depth of the resurrection that you might live life in new ways, and celebrate with profound joy.