|As a child, Easter was a time filled with angst and concern for me. Please don’t misunderstand, this worry had nothing to do with the message of Easter. Growing up in the church,I remember Easter as a time filled with beautiful church music; a time when everyone seemed so excited and happy; a time when everything around seemed to be resurrected. Winter was over, the sky was bluer, the breeze was warmer, and everyone was focused on one great fact, Jesus is Alive! My sweaty palms and racing heart had nothing to do with the message or the meaning of Easter. It had to do with shopping malls and really big rabbits!
My mother was a very loving and caring person who only wanted the best for her fourth little boy. She wanted me to experience all the excitement of every season of life, including Santa’s lap, pilgrim’s hats, summer fireworks and Easter Bunnies. Santa wasn’t too worrisome. I liked happy, fat guys. I’m well on my way to becoming one! But there was something terrifying about a huge, real rabbit. My mom witnessed the full impact of this fear the first Easter she took me to the mall to sit on the lap of a very large rabbit. Yes, I screamed and cried, and they even had the audacity to take pictures of me! But the worst part was when I elbowed the rabbit right in the snout and ran away. Not my finest moment. For years after that frightening day, especially in the spring, my heart would race and my palms would sweat whenever someone mentioned going to the mall.
Through the years, I have thought about that scary day at the mall. I have mostly thought about that poor rabbit or more specifically, the person in the suit. I wonder how many times other children had struck, punched, pulled or elbowed him or her in order to escape being devoured like some big carrot? I wonder what enticed the person behind the big rabbit to return to the mall day after day? Minimum wage? Free chocolate eggs? Emergency room visits? Why would anyone want to put their dignity and personal safety on the line for someone who may choose to reject them, yell at them and even become violent?
Jesus answered that question a long time ago. Let’s face it, Jesus had nothing to gain and everything to lose when he arrived on the scene in Jerusalem. It was clear that there were many people who did not understand who he was and were very frightened by his message. Jesus knew he was going to be ridiculed, beaten and crucified. Even for the benefit of people who rejected him and his message. But he came anyway.
Isn’t the power of love amazing? It was love that brought Jesus to Jerusalem. It was love that took Jesus to the cross. Love held him there. Love resurrected him. It is love that takes the church out into the community. It is love that looks past the failures and poor choices to see the person. It is love that prompts a teenager to sit in a mall and hopefully bring happiness to children who are willing. It was love that brought Jesus to us and gives life to his children who choose to believe. Maybe that big rabbit was not so bad after all.