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A Gift to Celebrate

Easter is a time of celebration – celebration of the great gift given so many years ago by a God who loves us more than we can ever imagine.

Easter is also a time of renewal, rebirth. We see the signs of rebirth every spring when seeds become beautiful flowers and new leaves emerge on barren twigs of shrubs. The greatest rebirth, however, is what happens within us when we reach out and take the gift God extends to us.

What is the gift we receive at Easter? Love – salvation – another chance – another opportunity – freedom to live with our God every day from now throughout eternity because He provided a way for us to come to Him through the sacrifice made on two pieces of wood nailed together.

On the 4th of July, we celebrate the freedom of our country as we reflect on the cost of soldiers who fought and died so long ago to make this country free. At Easter, I wonder if we have somehow lost the message of cost and sacrifice made by God to give us freedom from our sins, as we place so much focus on bunny rabbits, Easter eggs, spring flowers and new outfits.

What do we do with this love, so freely given to us? For love is a gift – no payment is due – in fact, if we have to make payment for it in any way, it no longer is a gift. If we have to pay for love, it has lost its value – it is diminished. The gift of love cannot be bought or bartered for or earned in any way. It is just that – a gift.

We often associate the value of a gift with how much it cost. The higher the cost of sacrifice made by the giver, the more value it has to the receiver. What greater cost and sacrifice can there be than to die for someone?

Jesus Christ chose to die for us. By choosing to die for us, He protected us from destruction – from the harm that befalls us when we are separated from God. In His death we are delivered from the consequences of our sins. It is a gift given to each of us. It is an expression of love – a love that says, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to have you with me forever.

We all want to be loved. It is a need as necessary as the air we breathe and the water we drink. We can’t manufacture love or find it in our halls of justice or science labs. Love is a gift freely given. When we accept God’s gift of love and salvation, we recognize our need for it and our unworthiness to receive it. But in that giving and acceptance of this great gift of love, we are re-born.

As we accept this gift, we are then asked to share it with others. We are to give it away to everyone: our children, our spouses, our neighbors and co-workers. In giving it away, it grows and becomes even greater than it was.

Happy Easter. As you accept God’s great gift of love and salvation, may you experience the greatest of joys. May it be a time of beautiful rebirth for you.

Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

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