Spiritual Celebrations: The Earth Rejoices

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns’ “.  I Chronicles 16:31 (NIV)

I reside in Eastern Tennessee, and right now the area is “bustin’ out all over” with blooms and beauty.  The dogwood, apple, redbud, and crabapple trees are in full bloom.  Everywhere I turn, I see tulips, pansies, phlox, candytuft, and various other flowers dressed in full array.  It is truly a beautiful sight to behold and a wonderful complement to Easter.  It’s as if the earth is rejoicing and celebrating the essence of the Biblical Easter story–rebirth and renewal.  But parts of the Easter story are not so beautiful–in fact, they are horribly grotesque and disturbing to our spirits.  Calvary was not a pretty picture.  All four gospels of the New Testament relate the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, but the accounts of Matthew and Luke offer more detail.  Luke’s Gospel tells us that on that terrible afternoon the sun stopped shining for three hours, and everything was dark.  Then as Christ drew His final breath, the veil (curtain) in the temple covering the entrance to the Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom.  There was an earthquake, rocks split, and tombs opened:  God and His earth were grieving!  An earthquake in itself would have been more than enough to frighten me, but the other added events would have most likely caused me to panic.  Had I been alive and in Jerusalem that day, would I have chosen to stay near Him at the cross or would I have run and gone into hiding, like so many of His disciples?  It must have truly been a frightening time.  But wait—-now for the rest of the story…

Matthew tells us that early on Easter morning another earthquake occurred; but this time the earth was rejoicing rather than grieving.  Perhaps the Father was trying to shake everyone from their sleep to shout “Awaken! Arise! A glorious thing has happened…the tomb is empty! He is risen!”  I have to believe that long ago on that Easter day, the sun shone, the birds sang, “the mountains and hills burst into song….and all the trees of the field clapped their hands.”  (Isaiah 55:12 NIV)

Amazing love!  How can it be, that thou, my God should die for me!  (penned in 1738 by Charles Wesley)

Happy April!  (c) 2012 Leslie O. Kelley

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