I love the Easter season in the life of the church. Although Christmas Eve has more pomp & circumstance and it’s a helluva lot cozier gathering in a big circle of love in a warm church than it is standing in a field beside a cemetery in what is inevitably an either rainy or snowy morning. The sun rarely cooperates for the sunrise service. Dagnabbit, I’ve always thought Halloween should be moved to summer, and Easter later in the spring.
Still, I love how the date for Easter is chosen: the first Sunday after the full moon after the Vernal Equinox. It’s hard to remember, but cool once it sets in. It’s about the moon, and that reminds us of the ancient and deep meaning of the season.
It’s a tough pill of a story to swallow, no doubt. A guy came along and posed a threat to those in power because he … was really nice and did things to help people no one else would help. Sure, he performed some weird miracles, like raising his buddy Lazarus from the dead, but if you’re ever journeyed with a friend through chemo treatments or depression and came out the other side together, you’ve raised someone from the dead, too.
He was lovely, that Jesus, so humble, the original social activist. Unafraid to make waves, unafraid to live and breathe and preach an unpopular way of living: sell all your crap and give the money to the poor, you don’t need more than one pair of sandals, show up when someone needs your help, hang out among the folks most people want to pretend are invisible.
Totally nonsensical and deeply threatening to the status quo everyone was working so hard to maintain.
A timely story in 2019, of course.
They hung him up to die which was a staple in the law enforcement tool kit back then. Every time I start to try to imagine how awful that must have been I have to stop … because it’s unimaginably horrifying. The penal system created by man has always had vast swaths of room for improvement.
He died. And then apparently he … didn’t die. This is where it gets dicey for a lot of folks, no doubt. Dead … alive … undead? … half-alive? Bah, who knows? Who cares? It’s a terrific story and I love everything about it. I don’t need all the details, I’m not worried if some things were out of place in the re-telling. Something terrific happened in the life story of Jesus, according to the four different written drafts, and I’m willing to buy into it.
If you’re willing to buy into the idea that money will make you happy, that the right house will make you important, that a good outfit is all it takes, that the right partner is out there somewhere, that one day you will be able to get everything done, when all the fates and stars are aligned, that good grades are the ticket to success in life, that the politicians have it figured out and should make important decisions for us, that … do you need me to go on? We start buying into things that aren’t really all that valid from the day we enter this lovely world, and it isn’t usually until our deathbed when we begin to see what this is really all about. We’re buyers-into, so why not start buying into the things that matter now? And maybe buy into a little of the magic that’s all around you while you’re at it, too.
Quite honestly I don’t really care all that much about the circumstances of Jesus’s death and resurrection. I love the story, it gets me every time. More than the events of that day, however, I love how he lived his life.
When Jesus was alive it was the powerful people who controlled the temple who dictated everything about how a god, God, gods were to be worshipped. Naturally, those in power wanted to keep their power, and so they spread a message of fear. Jesus came along and split that nonsense wide open. “He mediated access to God apart from the temple,” and by golly that’s my kind of faith. Access to a loving, benevolent energy via service to the world, self-forgetfulness, kindness and more love. I dig it.
I love everything about this gorgeous season. The whole world is coming back to life. I love the sounds of the birds in the morning, I love holding baby Keene, watching Coco hold a baby chick, seeing kids rush up to Raina and me with a handful of frog eggs; I love walking through the gardens seeing what’s popping up anew: little flowers and the first greens rising from their winter slumber … here come the rhubarb and the asparagus all over again! My mom’s birthday is this week; my parents were married in May. It’s my season, too: I was born in May and I am a snake in the Chinese cycle of birth. I love the longer days, the warmer sun, the hope and promise. Kids are back out on bikes, people are walking the streets holding hands. It’s all so good.
I’ll close with the words I’ll close with tomorrow:
We all know loss and pain.
Let none of it divide us.
In the rising sun today
Let us do together
what we cannot do alone.
Roll away the stones that close our hearts.