The cycle of life includes both new birth and eventual death, leading to rebirth and new life. In the phases in between birth and death, there are numerous times for changes, transitions, for interim steps, for one phase of life to be over and for another to begin.
For me, these past three years have been ones of twists and turns. My father's presidential primary run, quickly followed by my mother's stroke and then her passing away a year later.
It's these times of change that produce conflicting feelings: feelings of sadness over what was lost or is now gone; feelings of hope of the new life to come.
So it is with Easter. The sadness of the cross, of Jesus' death, juxtaposed against his resurrection and the joy of receiving God's gift of eternal life.
This focus on new life is reinforced in the Northern Hemisphere by the backdrop of spring. The backdrop of new life reminds us that Easter is more than a season of death; it is a season of new life, a time to be joyful, thankful for God's gift of eternal life and to look forward with anticipation of what is to come.
This year I am looking forward to waking up early, before the first light, walking out into the dark and awaiting the sunrise, and the service with my family.