By Jackie Knapp
I have a confession. Easter has never been my favorite holiday. Growing up, it felt like church services that were too long, lilies that were too smelly, and meat that was too sweet. In my adult years, I participated half-heartedly, often skipping town to go to the beach for the weekend, feeling guilty for not caring more.
When I interviewed for my job at Solano, I vaguely remember people mentioning Easter, but it was May and Easter seemed far, far away.
The next February, reality set in. In the matter of a week, 3000 plastic eggs filled my living room and my life. Staring at the eggs and mountains of face paint, I thought Easter might end me after all. I prepared myself to gut through the season without much joy.
But God has a clever way of proving us wrong, and the whole weekend turned out much different than I thought. Yes, there were stressful moments and frazzled nerves, but God met me in ways I didn’t expect.
A few moments turned out to be some of my favorite of the year. At one point, I stood in the back of the gym and watched people who had never heard the gospel before listen quietly to the real meaning of Easter. During one of the egg hunts, I remember grabbing hands with a dozen or so Solano friends, laughing hysterically as we yelled “hold the line!!!” as the wave of children threatened to trample us.
The next morning, I walked up the to Albany Hill for sunrise service. I looked out over the valley below, amazed that a cross stands above one of the least churched places in the country. We took in the sunrise and the beauty, and sang a simple song of gratitude.
It was in those moments that I realized I need Easter, that we need Easter. Not for the eggs or lilies or sweet meat, but because we so desperately need life, and we need light. We need life that exists beyond this world, light that permeates darkness.
Amid the miles of beauty and the innovative start-ups of this area, death lingers around, and darkness pulls at me, taunting and looming and threatening. I need Jesus, the one who entered my death and darkness, who bled and wept and gave himself to death, for my sake. I needed God’s impossible creativity to raise him back to life, so death didn’t have the final say, didn’t have the last laugh.
Instead of death, there was life.
There is life.
Life that can only be found in Jesus.
That’s what I need.
That’s what I’m praying would sink into my heart this year.
I don’t know if you always loved Easter, if you have grasped the resurrection and the goodness of celebrating it much better than I have. Maybe you can teach me your lessons learned. But I’m praying that wherever death and darkness are threatening to overtake us, that the light of Christ is breaking in, breaking through.
And I’m praying that it is with this spirit that we open our doors to people, that we invite people to experience the love of our church, and to encounter the person of Jesus in ways they never have before.
And yes, I hope it is with this spirit that we stuff eggs, and paint faces, and perhaps get trampled by dozens of children.
So, please be a part. However you can, with whatever you have to give. And most of all, be praying for the light of Christ to shine out of us as we live and move.