The lights. The music. The gifts. This is the season of the year, more than any other, that our hearts should be full of gratitude for our Savior Jesus Christ and the wondrous gifts of rescue and salvation from death and sin. The older I grow closer to God, the more my ruthlessly logical mind wonders how and why the world so fully embraces the Christmas season and everything it represents, when, in reality, the truly greatest gifts we enjoy result from the sacrifices and death of Christ we celebrate at Easter. So why does Easter still live in the long shadow of Christmas? The answers are not so obvious. Before I explain that, I need to explain this.
I’m about to become victim to a true writer’s irony and attempt to discuss a topic that is too deeply spiritual to be captured solely by words- the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I can compose smooth verbology that technically describes what the Atonement is and what it should mean to every person; the doctrine is straightforward and easy to understand. However, the truly satisfying elements of the Atonement are wordless wonders communicated in intensely personal heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul communications between God and man via our ponderings and prayers. Hence, the best we can do as preachers of this great principle is to provide words that we hope inspire mankind to the brink of indescribable communion with God, where spiritual connections then take over and usher us into His world of perfect love. Much like prophets in the scriptures had to be temporarily transfigured before they could withstand the presence of deity, so must we be temporarily spiritually transfigured before we can completely understand and enjoy the gift of redeeming love offered by the Atonement.
The Atonement is basic and far-reaching in scope and application. The results of choices made in the Garden of Eden dictated all mankind must be subject to death, and we were left to live the rest of eternity as disembodied spirits. Furthermore, because we all make mistakes, we are imperfect people spiritually separated from God, eternally penalized for our sins. However, via the act of Atonement wrought by Jesus Christ, he became our prophesied Savior. Through his sufferings in the Garden of Gethsemane, he took upon himself our sins AND sorrows, and on the Cross of Calvary he sacrificed his life for us so that we may be resurrected and live forever in glorified physical bodies.
When we say that we can’t explain something, current cultural norms have conditioned us to translate this as “we don’t know how something works.” I can’t explain magnets because I don’t know how they work; I am just a witness to the results of their physical properties. However, when well-meaning dedicated members of the church proclaim from the fast Sunday pulpit that they have testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, but they can’t explain how it works, they are merely expressing in fairly literal terms the frustration of trying to convey in words that which can only be accurately expressed heart-to-heart. What I’m trying to say is… is that in the hearts and souls of those who have taken advantage of the Atonement for strength to repent of sin and endure tragedy and sorrow, the Atonement is a completely logical and understandable doctrine and event; there just aren’t words to convey it.
This year Easter falls on April 20th 2014. I’m going to start early and celebrate Easter with same degree of respect and reverence for the Savior and his marvelous gifts as Christmas. This means spending at least the 25 days prior to Easter thinking and serving others in a way that show love for Him and eternal gratitude for the great gift of the Atonement.
Do not expect, however, obvious outward holiday preparations akin to Christmas; for like I explained above, Easter is truly a holiday of the heart.