If I've learned anything in my years as a follower of Jesus, it's that life is worth celebrating.
It is. That's just a fact.
The battle for us is just believing it.
To believe it when we're huddled on the floor; to believe it when the skin on our bones starts to rot; to believe it when our marriages feel like cages; to believe it when bombs take lives in Brussels, in Ghanaian schools, in the Middle East; to believe it when tyrants and racists threaten to take over the world; to believe it when we humans seem so hell-bent on abusing everything and everyone around us.
Life is worth celebrating.
The truth and our reality collide.
Maybe it'd all be easier if life didn't mean as much, we think, so we distance ourselves from how rare and beautiful it is to even exist .
It's easier to think of refugees as numbers, and 90 year olds in hospice as old people, and cancer patients as victims of science. Because our souls can't reconcile the pain we find ways to justify the slaughter of unborn children, and the senseless trafficking of humans all over the world.
It's too much.
This year I'll be 27. Easter is more complex for me than hunting for eggs and wearing flowery dresses to church, and I think it is for you too. I can no longer be a happy-clappy Christian on Easter or on any other day.
But I can, and do, cling to the truth: life is worth celebrating.
I believe that's what Jesus was saying when he rose from the dead. Life-- our lives-- were worth dying for. God so loved the world that he gave everything, so that we may have eternal life. God values life, he breathed it into us.
The whole narrative of the Bible contains the preciousness of human life to the Father. Not because he needs us, not because we add to his worth or contentment in any way, but because he unconditionally loves his people.
Yes, this life, the one we wade through every day is underwhelming at best. But Life, eternal, spotless, sinless, Life with Jesus is worth everything in this life and the next.
Life is worth celebrating. That's the message of Easter, the kind of message that makes these hands clap, and this heart rejoice.
I don't know where this Easter finds you. Maybe a bit cynical, over-tired, fearful for the future, not at church. I'm not asking you to pretend like there isn't pain or like this life doesn't suck. I would never ask you to be the kind of Christian who pushes it all away on Easter just because you're not sure how it all fits together.
Easter doesn't ignore pain. It looks it in the face, takes it by the hand and shows it the way back to life and freedom. Easter says Life is worth celebrating. Easter says this life isn't the end. Easter says He is risen, and so are you, because Life is worth it.