The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead’ … ” Matthew 28
[Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Mark 16:15
As some of my readers know, I was involved in an outreach in Michigan called “Satan’s Worst Nightmare,” which occurred every Halloween. It took fifteen years for the outreach to grow into a multimedia production, complete with live music, drama (depicting the death, burial, resurrection and final victory of Jesus Christ – from Satan’s point of view), dance, special effects, sidewalk counseling, and free Bibles, food, hot cider, tracts, and candy. But it started as a simple yard display.
One October day I had been getting a little weary of the usual yard displays – cemeteries, corpses hanging from trees, the “Grim Reaper,” witches, zombies, giant spiders, etc. It seemed the world was celebrating death, darkness, and evil. My friend Kelly and I decided to decorate her yard with a different kind of display, one celebrating life, while keeping with the general style of the season. We filled her yard with tombstones, which didn’t seem that unique at first. But each one of our headstones had a verse from the Bible on it having to do with resurrection and eternal life.
It was meant to make people take a second look, and it worked. After the display was set up, Kelly would enjoy sitting in her living room, sipping her coffee and watching out the window as people walked by, stopped in their tracks, did a “double take,” and backed up to read the messages on the tombstones. As they read, she’d pray.
Since moving to Kentucky I have made some evangelistic tombstones of my own, and last Halloween they were spread out in front of our house – as much a anything could be spread out in our little yard. A black sign with jagged edges and creepy writing pointed to the mini-cemetery with the words “Satan’s Worst Nightmare.”
The night before Easter it occurred to me that the verses on the tombstones were just as appropriate for Resurrection Day, probably more. So I dragged them out, minus the “Satan’s Worst Nightmare” sign, and set them up in the yard.
When I backed up to inspect the display, it didn’t look right to me. The verses of Scripture were great, but from a distance the display as a whole looked like a graveyard, and anyone unable to read the Bible verses wouldn’t “get it.”
After a quick trip to the corner store, I blew up some colorful balloons and attached them to the tombstones. Various colors of curly ribbon dangled around the words of Scripture to emphasize the festive, joyous message they conveyed. It was midnight, but from what I could see, I was satisfied with the end product.
Resurrection Morning was sunny and beautiful, and as I was leaving for church, I spotted a neighbor I frequently saw out walking with his little granddaughter. As I greeted them, the little girl’s face lit up, and she went running toward the colorful balloons and ribbons. Grampa’s face broke into a grin as he pointed to the yard and exclaimed, “LOVE it!” I wished them a happy Resurrection Day and hopped in the car. As I drove away, I could see the tiny child still taking in the the view, as her grandfather stood looking at the headstones, I’m guessing reading the good news they were declaring.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, today we hear news that disappoints, distresses, frightens, angers, and saddens us. But You have given us the best news ever. -You have conquered it all! You died for us, to pay for our sins, and You are alive! You freely offer us the gift of salvation and ask only that we believe and share the good news with everyone. Let our writings, our voices, our faces, our actions – even our homes – communicate that good news daily. When people look at us, may they see You. In Your name we pray, Amen.