Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Living past Easter

We come heavy with heavy hearts and silence, bowed down by the weight of a Holy Week marked with emotion and great loss.  We carry our defeats--our loss of hope, the painful separation of death--on backs badly bruised with the sting of humiliation.  Our eyes behold the darkness that surrounds us, and squint at the light of the sun rising on the horizon.  We have seen and felt too much, and we feel crushed by the despair of failure...ours, and the alleged failure of our seemingly absent God.  The cross is a shadow looming over us wherever we go.

Women at the empty tomb, by Fra Angelico, 1437-1446. 

But as we arrive at the tomb, something looks different.  Although it's hard to place what has changed, we realize that the stone has been moved, and the cave is open, almost inviting.  We are drawn in, expecting the stink of death, and yet find...nothing.  The tomb is empty.  We are filled with confusion, fear, hope, and anger...what has happened?  Who has taken him?  There is a memory tickling our mind...something about resurrection, about leaving and returning, but what can it mean?

We stand in the great emptiness, with the echoing of our silent questions, incredulous, filled with wonder.  And we await an answer, a presence that will make sense of all of this nonsense.


We still wait, in a world that has known a Savior,  and in that same world that seems to have abandoned him (Or, as some question, has Savior the abandoned our world?).  If the message was love, why is there so much hatred?  If he came to bring peace, why are we so divided, so at war?  We are caught in the now, but not yet...the in between time between Christ's resurrection and second coming, when we hope things will be set straight.  When the Kingdom of God will truly reign in righteousness, justice, and peace.  Shalom.

We woke up on Easter Monday to a world that likely looked much the same.  Our Easter finery was put away (more laundry to do and another trip to the gym to work off the big meals and all the candy).  The plastic eggs were put into storage for the next year, another completed cycle of re-enacting the drama that many of us have lost the feeling for.  The Passion story devoid of all passion.

What is the meaning of Easter?  What did it change?  Do we really believe the story, and if we do, why doesn't it change us?

I think for me, sometimes, the story has become too familiar, to the point of making me numb.  There's something wrong when something as fantastic as a resurrection isn't enough to shake me out of my stupor.  This is beyond good news...this is real hope for a world that is filled with death and darkness.  New life!  Rebirth!  Another chance when it all seems lost!

A liberal bishop was asked if he actually believed in the resurrection.  "Believe it?" he said, "I've seen it too many times not to!"

And so, we step back into our ordinary lives, but perhaps our senses are more attuned to the signs of resurrection around us--the daffodil poking out of the still cold ground, the surprising reconciliation, the promise of something new.  I think of my friend's hope as she interviews for potential new jobs after a season of uncertainty.  I rejoice with another who had the courage to face bad news and realized it wasn't so bad after all.  I witness the painful struggles of faith and know that while certainty is not a given, strength and passion may lie on the other side.

Every day holds the potential for Easter as we put our trust in a God who won't be bound by the ordinary.

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