Celebrating Easter

Dear Friends,

As a child I always looked forward to Easter.  Although, if I'm honest, it was more because of the Easter break from school and, of course, there were the chocolate eggs to enjoy on Easter Sunday!

Now that I've grown up a little I look forward to Easter for different reasons and it means so much more to me.  It's the opportunity to celebrate our risen Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ. To celebrate that he won the victory over death and that we can experience the hope of an eternal life with God.  It's a time when I can celebrate and worship God with my church family and also my own family.

And this year there's an extra special reason for me to celebrate the day.   My daughter, Jess, has made the decision to get baptised and it's going to take place during our Easter Sunday morning service.

Of course, any time someone makes the decision to obey God and follow his command to be baptised is wonderful.  But to me it's extra special when it coincides with Easter.

Throughout his life on earth Jesus was obedient to his Father.  He went where his father told him to go and he did and said what his father told him to do and say.  This led him to the cross where he willingly gave up his life for me and for you.  He died on that cross and was buried in the tomb.  But that was not the end - after three days he rose from the dead.  Hallelujah! 

"I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said." 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NLT)

Like Jesus, Jess wants to be obedient to God and follow his will for her life.  Baptism is symbolic - when Jess goes into the water she is identifying herself with Jesus' death and it's a picture of her dying to her old self.  She is identifying herself with Jesus as she is under the water - a picture of Jesus in the grave.  Then as she comes up out of the water she identifies herself with her risen Saviour, and it's a picture of her new life.

"For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus."  Romans 6:4-11 (NLT)

Baptism is not what makes Jess a Christian.  She became a Christian as a young child when she invited Jesus to live in her heart.  Baptism is another step in her journey of faith.  It means she has heard God's call to be baptised and she has chosen to be obedient. 

"Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT).

Baptism is an outward expression of what has happened on the inside.  By choosing to be baptised she is showing others that she loves God and has chosen to follow him.

Jess will have many decisions to make over the coming years - such as what to study at college, what career to choose etc.  But this is by far one of the most important decisions she will ever make.  Her decision to follow God affects her life now and for all eternity.

As a Mum I want the best for my children.  I am so thrilled that Jess chose from an early age to become a Christian and to now be baptised.  It's something I have prayed for both my children.  More than anything else I want them to follow God, to know what it is to be loved by him, to know his presence with them, leading them and directing them in the plans he has for them.  Yes, I want them to do well in their education.  Yes, I want them to have good friends.  A career that they are happy in.  There is so much I want for them both.  But these things can't compare with having a daily, close relationship with God.  Everything else is temporary - money, work, friends, home - but a relationship with God is forever.  Not just for the here and now, but also for eternity.

So this Easter, my family and I celebrate all that God accomplished on the cross.  We worship him as the living God.  We praise him for the gift of new life he gives to each one of us when we choose to love and follow him. This Easter we also celebrate the decision of our youngest child, Jess to be baptised and to obediently live for God.

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

To Think About:
What does Easter mean to you?  How will you celebrate Easter this weekend?

Have you accepted God's gift of new life and made the decision to follow him?  If not, what's stopping you?

What does it mean to you to belong to Christ and to be given a new life?

Vicki

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