It’s time to rejoice.
Easter has finally arrived with great joy for Christendom. Many Christians have trudged their way through Lent, thinking about the last days of Jesus and reflecting upon the life lived in the light of the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.
As you read this, many Orthodox Christians will have already celebrated Pascha at the midnight hour with great rejoicing. I experienced Pascha last year through the eyes of two Orthodox congregations. It was a real blessing to participate in their joy as the resurrection of Jesus was loudly proclaimed. My ADN column of those experiences can be seen here. (see http://www.churchvisits.com/2016/05/reflections-on-orthodox-easter/)
Different faiths have different expressions of Easter joy. I enjoy experiencing them first hand to get a better understanding on how theologically accurate they are. In many congregations, Easter bunnies, Easter eggs, and frivolities are the centerpiece instead of Jesus Christ, Him crucified, buried, and resurrected. Skeptics rejoice to see such nonsense supported by those types of churches observing that nonsense. We live in a different world, some would say, a post-Christian world. More than ever Christians should rejoice in the purity of our message of hope.
For many of my Church Visits writing years I’ve loved repeating a fantastic Wright quote from his book “Surprised by Hope” as it inspires a true re-examination of the way we celebrate. “Easter week itself ought not to be the time when all the clergy sigh with relief and go on holiday,” Wright says, “It ought to be an eight-day festival, with champagne served after morning prayer or even before, with lots of alleluias and extra hymns and spectacular anthems. Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don’t throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to live the resurrection if we don’t do it exuberantly in our liturgies? Is it any wonder the world doesn’t take much notice if Easter is celebrated as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting and gloom?”
I conclude with theologian Walter Brueggemann’s Easter poem.
An Easter Prayer
…On our own, we conclude:
that there is not enough to go around
we are going to run short
we should seize the day…
seize the goods…
seize our neighbor’s goods
because there is not enough to go around
and in the midst of our perceived deficit;
You come giving bread in the wilderness
You come giving children at the 11th hour
You come giving homes to the exiles
You come giving futures to the shut-down
You come giving Easter joy to the dead
You come … fleshed … in Jesus
And we watch while
the blind receive their sight
the lame walk
the lepers are cleansed
the deaf hear
the dead are raised
the poor dance and sing.
We watch … and we take
food we did not grow and
life we did not invent and
future that is gift and gift and gift and
families and neighbors who sustain us
when we do not deserve it.
It dawns on us, late rather than soon, that
You give food in due season
you open your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
By your giving,
break our cycles of imagined scarcity
override our presumed deficits
quiet our anxieties of lack
transform our perceptual field to see
the abundance…mercy upon mercy
blessing upon blessing.
Sink your generosity deep into our lives
that your much-ness may expose our false lack
that endlessly receiving, we may endlessly give,
so that the world may be made Easter new,
without greedy lack, but only wonder
without coercive need, but only love
without destructive greed, but only praise
without aggression and evasiveness…
all things Easter new…
all around us, toward us and by us
all things Easter new.
Finish your creation…
in wonder, love and praise. Amen.
To all my readers, Happy Easter…He is Risen!