The celebration we call Easter
In this season worldwide, persons are celebrating, in faith, the promise of a life beyond the present life. The journey in steps on this round globe — the earth — is affirmed by millions of persons as a kind of stepping stone to a future existence. Six words/terms are a guide to enlarge our understanding and application of a declaration heard in many places of worship:
“Christ is Risen
Christ is Risen
He is Risen, indeed”
1. Hope, 2. History, 3. Heart, 4. Individual, 5. Announcement and 6. Crossroads
Hope is an affirmation that is not, I believe, limited to a particular crowd. Sharing of differences are less troubling at Easter. The brightness of this day is brighter than the in-group! View, please, the various traditions: Songs, liturgy, creeds, symbols, prayers, chants, dogma, proper words, hymns, attire, architecture, gestures, confessions, physical instruments, expected experiences, instructions, particular leaders, buildings, art, granddad’s instructions or promises, etc.
My suggestion in this writing is to acknowledge that the diversity, the differences, draw us to a shared faith. Easter — the belief in eternal, divine occurrence, has taken place. Can we affirm the values that characterize particular actions and convictions present among a broad range of participants?
History: Manifesting the work of a Divine Presence. Look at the background of Easter in the larger life of Jesus Christ. The miracle of Easter is not an isolated part of the Jesus story. In her book “Holy The Firm,” Annie Dillard retells an event of the early followers of the one called Messiah.
The disciples asked Christ, upon viewing a roadside beggar who was blind from birth, “Who did sin, this man or his parents?” (Note the ancient view of cause and effect going on in a simplistic universe.) The story, of course, is unique. Christ spat on the ground, made mud of his spittle and clay, placed the mud over the man’s eyes which were opened to see a bright sky. My believing that poetic language may be stronger and deeper than a conversation with Bud at his bookstore. I sense what is going on! Possibly lessons on the reality of God? The answer to the question about causes of sin: “Neither has this man sinned nor his parents (blame?), but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
To this story Annie Dillard writes, “What in the Sam Hill is going on here?” Pause. I’m applying that statement while looking at the extra flowers placed in churches on Easter Sunday.
Applying the story of life beyond a tomb is a very individual way of embracing a reality. The biology textbook diagrams the human heart as the body’s organ which is the size of a fist. Think beyond that to the heart as central to your being able to breathe and eat your buttered toast today. Life at the physical level is a grand miracle! A Bible vision speaks of another sphere. Consult Jeremiah 29:13.
Wisely, the heart has been the scene of romantic rhapsody, tearful pain, and a metaphor for life itself. When you say to your child or grandchild: “I love you from my heart.” No course in language is needed! That remark is individual, one of a kind, and goes to the center of love.
An illustration from a particular worldview is given by Wendell Berry in his book, Life is a Miracle. Quoting a letter to the editor of the July 8, 1999, issue of the “New York Times,” we read: “While change is difficult for those affected, the larger, more efficient business organizations will eventually emerge and industry consolidation will occur to the benefit of the many.” Come now! Are you including me among “the many”? No! A thousand times over … the writer says, “more efficient.” No! It may be a mark of a troublesome culture. But there is a motto of sorts, “bigger is better.” Your opinion?
Each of us is a single beating heart, both physically and individually that we cherish. We are not gods but we as single human beings may respond to God. (Possibly even a false God may be in the human mix?)
We are for Easter, now beyond the teaching in the temple, the moving of palm branches, and the cruel cross. Easter is more than impersonal rites; it is for me the announcement that the Jesus story will continue. And that is a very individual awakening to grant each of us the grace of peace.
Within the contradictions, peace, and violence, bombardment to our senses is omnipresent. We who rejoice in the uplifting glory of Easter are very aware of “the news.” For some days bleak, black, bruised, and seemingly hopeless is the way of the world. We are not immune to the suffering, hunger, and homelessness of so many brothers and sisters. And to leaders in high places we ask: Are you drunk with power, sick, and why the chemicals and missiles? Are you just egomaniacs; are you in the grip of manic selfishness? Oh my — should I think of all this within the environment of prayer, Easter eggs, and singing? And the singing includes, “I serve a Risen Savior, He’s in the world today.” I can understand if you say: “Really?”
A reminder. In the midst of the most treacherous violence, rejection and as a wandering people, hope for a different worldview was recited. It’s in the Jewish hymn book, the Psalms. And the words in verse 149:1 is “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful.” In this minute, this day, I, like you, live at the crossroads of such a mixture of events, emotions, wishes and prayers. I shall in the middle of that crossroad allow the old, old story to become the new story. Can that, among the many meanings of Easter, be our story?