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April 1, 2003

Little Philip, born with Down's syndrome, attended a third-grade Sunday School class with several eight-year-old boys and girls.  Typical of that age, the children did not readily accept Philip with his differences.  But because of a creative teacher, they began to care about Philip and accept him as part of the group, though not fully.

The Sunday after Resurrection Sunday the teacher brought Leggs pantyhose containers, the kind that look like large eggs.  Each receiving one, the children were told to go outside on that spring day, find some symbol for new life, and put it in the egglike container.  Back in the classroom, they would share their new life symbols, opening the containers one by one.

After running about the church property in wild confusion, the students returned to the classroom and placed the containers on the table.  Surrounded by the children, the teacher began to open them.  After each one, whether flower, butterfly, or leaf, the class would ooh and ahh.  Then one was opened revealing nothing inside.  The children exclaimed, “That's not fair.  Somebody didn't do their assignment." 

Philip spoke up, "That's mine."

"Philip, you don't ever do things right!" the students said angrily.  "There's nothing there!"

“I did so do it," Philip insisted.  "I did do it.  It's empty.  The tomb was empty!"  Silence followed.  From then on Philip became a full member of the class.

Philip died not long afterward from an infection most normal children would have shrugged off.  At the funeral this class of eight-year-olds marched up to the altar not with flowers, but with their Sunday School teacher, each to lay on it an empty pantyhose egg.

Too often it is hard to understand the circumstances of our lives.  Children with diseases.  Families in desperate need of healing.  War which plagues mankind.  The struggles of our lives which come as the result of sin either in our own lives or as the consequence of living in a sinful world.

The worst of this world, including our own sin, Jesus took upon Himself while dying on the cross.  Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you”  (John 15:18).

Praise God that in the midst of all we experience we can celebrate resurrection, life and hope!  What powerful words were spoken by the angel, “He is not here, but He has risen”  (Luke 24:6).  The reality of Jesus’ resurrection gives validity to our faith and certainty to the hope that is within us.

Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly”  (John 10:10).  Regardless of the circumstances of our lives, no matter how deep our sin, the way is open to abundant life now and an eternal relationship with God to come.

Jesus’ empty tomb is our wake-up call to life!  Beyond the circumstances of our lives is God’s life offered through Jesus.  His resurrection power is able to break the bonds of sin, emptiness, hopelessness, and loneliness which bind us.  The reality of His empty tomb can change our lives forever.  Our resurrected Savior invites us to trust in Him, to accept His gift of life given through His death and resurrection.

If you do not know the life He offers, today trust Him as your Savior.  If you know Him, then come and join with us in celebration of the life and hope He has given to us.