Had any holidays lately?
It seems that, for the holiday enthusiast, there are holidays almost each and every day for every situation under heaven and every person there as well. Every month, it seems, is filled with holidays to honor every occupation, every avocation, every sport, every nonsensical hobby under the sun.
Take the month of April. This month there are the obvious holidays such as April Fool’s Day (April 1), Income Tax Day (the 15th), and Dyngus Day (On the day after Easter — look it up – it is a real holiday!)
But there are many more as well, like the ones that honor foods, such as National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day (April 2), National Licorice Day (April 12), Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day (April 12), National Peach Cobbler Day (April 13), and National Pecan Day (April 14). Let’s not forget National Librarian Day (April 16), Girl Scout Leader’s Day (April 22), and Russian Cosmonaut Day (April 12). Want some more? How about National Walk to Work Day (April 6), World Party Day (April 3), and Don’t Go to Work Unless It’s Fun Day (April 3).
Oh, and did I mention, Golfer’s Day (April 10)?
Holidays have become days to honor almost anything, to demonstrate our love for our heritage, our vocations, our avocations, our pets, our family members, our hobbies, our passions or any other subject we wish to proclaim our love for!
That leads me to conclude that the best holiday, not only in April, but in the whole year, including Christmas, is – yes, you guessed it – Easter! You may be surprised to hear that statement, since Christmas is such a popular and financially successful holiday year after year.
But, you see, without Easter, there would be no Christmas!
I can hear you asking, “Wait! Doesn’t Christmas have to happen before Easter could occur?” That is a great question, but its answer is fairly straightforward.
The only reason Christmas is a holiday, in spite of all the commercial emphasis it garners, is to celebrate the birth of Christ. The question is echoes: “Why was Christ born at all?” The Scriptures tell us clearly: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ, then was BORN (Christmas!) to DIE (Good Friday). But He did not stay dead; He ROSE from the dead (EASTER)! And He did all of that because He loves you and He loves me!
When we talk about love, we tend to think of it as a sort of goose-bump-raising, mushy, gushy, feeling that comes upon us when we think about, listen to, or look into the eyes of the one we “love!” But wait, isn’t love also a big, fat ZERO? It is, if you’re playing tennis!
And don’t we also talk about “love” in the same breath when we talk about our cars, our gardens, our pets, and our favorite sports teams?
I even heard someone not too long ago talk about loving his “Play Station 2!” (And he was an adult – not a kid!)
So what is love anyway?
In the first century, when Jesus was on this earth, He talked a lot about love, but perhaps nowhere was he more clear in his explanation of the true meaning of love than during the last night of His life here on earth.
He was meeting with the men who had given up everything in their lives to follow Him, to learn from Him, to simply be with Him. And He was talking with them about the legacy He would be leaving them.
He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15: 13).
That verse made a significant difference in my own life many years ago, especially when coupled with the next verse, where he proclaims to his disciples: “YOU are my friends…” (emphasis mine).
In the current environment, where, no matter how involved in “social” media a person gets, the tendency is to be independent and alone in the world, the message that Jesus is MY friend is a powerful one!
I was freshly graduated from one of the finest universities in the land, and newly employed by one the largest companies in the nation, with my eyes set on the fast track to corporate success.
Only one problem: I was lonely. I would spend every spare moment moping about that loneliness and seeking ways to fill the void in my life.
Then one evening, at the height of one of those “loneliness adventures”, I found those words of Jesus – and my life changed… forever! The message of Easter is that Jesus is alive! And because He is alive, after laying down his life for his friends, there is hope and joy and peace and energy to live each and every day in the newness of life that only HE can provide!
One of the greatest messages the world needs to know is exactly what that old hymn proclaims: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus!” And oh, how true it is!
So today, whether you are celebrating “Hug a Newsman” Day, “World Rat Day” or “Tell a Lie Day”, I encourage you NOT to forget Easter, or as I prefer to call it, Resurrection Day – and yes, even the after-effects of that holiday.
Because Jesus died on the cross and rose again,
He gives you every reason to realize HE is your friend, and by trusting in Him, you too can enjoy peace, joy, and hope for tomorrow – all because, as He says, “You are My friend!”
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Hillsboro Times-Gazette and the Wilmington News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Faith Community Church in Hillsboro and Port William UMC.