“Christ is risen!” Those were the words the women heard from the angel, and they are the words we greet you with on this Easter, 2005. It is a message that never grows old and is the foundation for every Christian’s life. It is the triumphant proclamation to the world.
It is the message that goes with you, wherever that might be. Where are you celebrating Easter this year? This will be a first for us. My wife and I moved into a retirement village seven weeks ago, and we are enjoying it very much. Let me assure you that it is not like retirement facilities of days gone by.
We have 1,350 square feet in our unit, which is called Windcove. They clean your unit and wash your sheets. They fix whatever needs to be fixed and provide entertainment. They check your blood pressure and other health concerns. To top it all off, they serve you a delicious dinner each evening.
I am learning not to call it “an old-people’s home.” That seems to be offensive to some people. It does not bother me because I am proud and thankful to be old. Look at the long, full life God has given me. If you are in your 70s, you are some of the new kids on the block, but we are not done living. Some of the men who live here have been ice fishing this winter, and now we are looking forward to the golfing season. It is one of the most upbeat places in the area. You can sit around and reminisce with old friends and tell how we of the “greatest generation” actually did all that was done in the last half of the twentieth century.
Now if you are about to shut me off and say, “I thought I would hear something about Easter and not about a retirement village,” please stay with me, for I am headed to the Easter message.
To live in this retirement village is an insight into the Golden Age, which is not always so golden no matter how comfortable your living quarters. For all of us who are here, death has become more of a reality every day. The obituaries in the newspaper and the empty spots wherever you go are a reminder that Pete and Mary are dead.
Two of my close friends have lost their wives within the last five months. They died unexpectedly. The tears flow freely as they try to explain what life is like without their spouse. “First, now, it is beginning to sink in that she is gone,” was the statement of one of these men over coffee. The other said, “I awaken in the middle of the night, and her place in the bed is empty. She’s not there.”
Both of these men believed that the wives would survive them. Now their plans are shattered, spirits crushed, hearts broken, dreams destroyed, and their nights are long. It is in this environment that people begin to wonder about life after death. Most people hope, and I believe they think, that there is a life after death. However, not all are sure where they are going to end up. Once they joked about eternity; now life after death is taken more seriously.
However, because of the Easter message, many know there is a heavenly home awaiting them, and there is a place reserved there for them. “How do you know?” you ask. God has spoken in His Word. Listen to the scriptures: “Now brothers (and sisters), I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you take your stand. By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word which I preached to you.”
Satan appears to be the victor in the Garden of Eden when our first parents sinned. Adam and Eve were thrown out of a personal relationship with God. Sin had entered this world, and a perfect creation was now broken. When sin came into this world, sickness and death came with it, and all of our heartache is because of the human’s fall into sin. What would God do? He set up a plan of redemption to bring us back into fellowship with Him. In the fullness of time, He sent His Son, Christ Jesus into the world to take upon Himself the sin of the world. This is what happened at the cross when Jesus was crucified. Once again the observer could say, “Satan is the victor once more.” Not so, for on the third day God raised His Son from the grave. Jesus was raised. He paid the price for the sins of the world, and God the Father had accepted the payment. Jesus Christ is the Victor.
What a glorious message, but notice again what Paul writes, “Now brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, and on which you have taken a stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word which I preached to you” (I Corinthians 15:1-2).
Through Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection, we are saved if we receive Him. The Holy Spirit empowers us to receive Him, and Christ becomes the foundation for our lives. This is Easter.
Satan was soundly defeated when God raised Christ from the grave, and we can sing with St. Paul these words:
“Where, O death is your victory?
Where, O death is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
(I Corinthians 15:55, 56)
Both of my friends who have lost their wives since Easter last year are committed believers in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ. In this period of mourning, they cry and express their sorrows and frustrations, but they know this is only temporary. You visit with them, and they will clearly express their faith in Christ. They cling to the Word and these blessed promises.
These men met the Savior when they were both young. Both of them came from homes where the parents told them about Jesus, who was raised. Then this seed of faith grew for eighty years in their lives. Today He is their blessed hope.
So, for you who are living in a retirement village, or would qualify as far as your age is concerned, if Jesus is your Savior, keep right on walking with him. He is your lasting comfort, and He will not let you down. Soon He will come to receive you. But if Jesus is not your Savior, will you receive Him? He died and rose for you and wants to be your living Lord.
For you who are younger, if Jesus is your Savior, walk with Him. Trust Him. Even at twenty years of age, you are not that far from living in a retirement village. The years go past rapidly. But if you do not know him, my young friends, receive Him today as your Savior. Find a Christian to help you know him. Then it will be a glorious Easter.