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How Can I Find Easter Joy?

That’s a real question. We get excited for the celebration on Palm Sunday and the joyful services and family gatherings on Easter. We get really busy preparing. But sometimes we may wonder why this holiday does not touch us more deeply.  Jesus is risen. Where’s the gladness?
I’d like to suggest a counter-intuitive path to Easter joy.  Push more deeply into the passion! The key to Easter is the cross. The ugly, loud, defeating, disgusting crucifixion of Jesus unlocks the vault of resurrection hope. Too often we have skipped from Palm Sunday to Easter without a stop at Golgotha. That cheapens our celebration. But who really wants to press into the most horrible method of punishment yet devised? Besides, the rest of the world barely acknowledges Easter, so games and matches and deadlines steal our attention from Holy Week. That’s not a judgment, just a diagnosis of why Easter joy eludes us so often. Here are 5 ways to follow Christ more closely this 
Holy Week.
1) Ponder the Passion. Read the accounts of Jesus’ agony in the Garden, his arrest, scourging, trial, crucifixion and burial. Spend ten minutes a day with one of the gospels open to these accounts. Visualize. Feel. Pray with Jesus in his suffering. You might even want to check out my article “Break the Hardness in Me” going live April 4 at
2) Spend Time in Week Six of “Come and See.” Days 36 to 42 will take you to the drama of Jesus’ final day and the release of his rising. Whatever you might have missed along the way, this Holy Week engage week six with your full attention.
3) Attend the Service of Shadows. On Holy Thursday, April 6 at 7 pm, we will move through the passion story with a feast of visual, musical and spoken offerings. We’ll stop along the way to the cross to ponder six magnificent paintings, vividly displayed on our high definition screens. We’ll have communion, extinguish candles and conclude quietly at the garden tomb. Together, we can viscerally experience the passion at a new level. 
4) Curate Your Own Set of Images, Essays, Poems and Reflections on the Meaning of Jesus’ Passion. Google or Bing are amazing tools for mining the treasure of Christian art, literature and theology. The more you try searches such as “the thief on the cross” or “why they gave Jesus vinegar on the cross,” the better you will get at excavating jewels of our faith. 
5) Change Your Rhythm. Skip something during Holy Week. Reduce your schedule. Get up a half hour early. Take a walk with one phrase of Scripture to ponder. Read passages with your family. Watch The Chosen. Fast for a meal. Invite someone to talk about the cross with you.
We have an immense storehouse of grace. But accessing it doesn’t just happen. We press into the passion, with all the emotional, spiritual and intellectual effort it takes. Then, only then, does the release of joy on Easter become ours.
So glad to be on this journey with you,