I walked two miles in the rain to complete the Easter service ritual. I was tempted to feel as empty as my pew, the only one with a sole congregant in the packed sanctuary.

Easter is kind of funny because it's the only time when we celebrate emptiness. But God loves doing stuff like that. He takes our emptiness, sadness, and sorrow and transforms it all. He redeems. He gives us a reason to celebrate. We can rejoice in spite (and maybe because) of what we lack- because we have gained so much more. That's what Christianity is about.

It’s about how we didn’t know how lost we were until he found us. How we didn’t realize how deadened to him we were until he gave us life. It’s about how while we were not merely unlovable, but downright repulsive- that God Himself came to us and engaged with us. He became like us. He lived like us. But he didn’t die like us.

Just as through one man’s sin, death entered into the world, so, too, through one man’s death, death’s power and sting were overcome. For Christ wasn’t just any man, but a priest. Not just the high priest, but the great high priest, the Son of God, merciful and faithful in the service to God and helper to the offspring of Abraham. For our high priest has passed through both heaven and hell. He is not unable to sympathize with us in our weaknesses, but in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

The sinless Christ suffered and died and experienced the wrath of God so that those who place their hope in Him will not have to. Now, though we suffer and bear our crosses and, yes, even die, that empty tomb means so much for us. We have faith in its power, and that power is now our inheritance. We believe that which Christ has started, He will bring to completion. Two miles in the rain is a short journey compared to our sojourn through this life, and the average 78.7 years is miniscule compared to eternity. A ritual is not just a series of motions, but is a demonstration of hope for the future. We know this hope does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit he has given to us. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. So now these remain: faith, hope, and love. The grass will wither, and the flowers fall, but the Word who became flesh lasts forever. This is the symbol of the empty tomb.

This is our assurance; thanks be to God. Now we may go in His peace.