May 1 is my grandfather’s birthday. If he were alive today, he’d be 123 years old. He was born in Sioux City, the son of Norwegian immigrants. As a young man, he joined the Navy and served onboard a ship during the first world war. Grandpa was bright, witty, handsome, and had a way with words. He was a man of faith who raised his children to be a part of the church. He was a smart dresser and had an eye for nice clothes. Grandpa loved watching baseball, enjoyed talking politics, and he could fix almost anything…
…and I’ve never met him. Grandpa died 13 years before I was born. I know him through my father and the stories he tells. To this day, Dad continues to pass along these bits of information. Most of them I’ve heard before. Some of them, even after all these years, are brand new. Like a verbal memoir, dad has woven the picture of a man who is so real to me, that I feel like I’ve known him all my life. This probably sounds strange, but I love my grandfather, even though we’ve never met…
We just wrapped up another Easter and I am again reminded of it’s two fold audacious promise.
1) Easter is present tense: Through his death, Jesus set us free so that we might live this life to the fullest.
2) Easter is future tense: Through the empty tomb, Christ has opened to us a world more permanent, more real, more lasting than anything we see with our eyes, or feel with our fingers, or hear with our ears.
Let me put this another way.
Live in the now. Life is too short to get tangled in our hurts, our resentments, our jealousies, our petty differences, etc, etc, etc. Jesus died for that stuff. He set you free. Live it!
Live for tomorrow. As much as you might love your life and everyone who is a part of it, know that this is only a taste of the good things to come. Let this hope drive everything you are.
For my part, I will daily recommit myself to loving my family, caring for my congregation, hugging my wife, and letting go of the stuff that gets me stuck…
…Oh yes, I will also remember May 1 and think of the day when finally, through that audacious promise, I will meet my grandfather face to face.
It’s an Easter thing.