Easter has Come! We’re Saved!!
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.
-Paul (I Corinthians 15:20)
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Like a too-tightly wound jack-in-the-box, I finally get to rocket out of my Lenten box and declare openly what I’ve known my whole life: Everything changed forever when Jesus emerged from that dark cave two millennia ago! No matter what we are required to endure; no matter what evils befall us; no matter how long we are trapped in small spaces with those we are supposed to love the most; no matter how many lives and jobs Covid-19 claims; death and darkness and distancing do not have the last word! I am not a pie-in-the-sky optimist. The brutal realities of daily life in the best of times tax us to the max. These days? We can see the limit from here! We have been asking for weeks, “How long, O Lord?” How much can we bend? How far can we stretch??
Time will prove how tough we are. Our resilience—another title for hope—springs like a jack-out-of-the-box precisely because we cling so tightly to the truth we celebrated yesterday, for the seven weeks of Easter, and forever. The angel first mouthed the message: “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.” (Matthew 28:5-6) The Hallelujahs and Alleluias we put away during Lent have been hauled out, gussied up, and returned joyfully to our hymns, prayers, and lives. Theoretically.
On the face of it, however, nothing seems to have changed. We worshipped remotely yesterday. Today, the nasty little death dealer stalks invisibly and prejudicially. We are still confined to our cabins, large or small. No March Madness champion was crowned. No Jumbo Shrimp bats are cracking. The Masters…in November?!? The tux and prom dress don’t need cleaning. Sigh! Liturgically, it’s Easter! Practically, we’re trapped in a Lenten-like existence.
Attitudinally, spiritual, and relationally, however, we are liberated by our Easter cry. After Jesus’ resurrection, his followers didn’t get on the express train to heaven. Paul inks the word above, not because life unfolded like the petals on a rose. Rather, because it didn’t. But signs of hope—first fruits—kept popping up all around the place. I, too, have witnessed their presence around RPC and the half-block I cover these days: acts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, even self-control—at Publix!! I have been moved to tears so frequently by the stories of resurrection I have seen and heard each and every day. A lot of other shtuff, too; but those things do not have the last word. Paul and Pope Francis and Pastor Bill…and we do. So find an open widow and shout it out: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Better yet, sing with Brain Wren, to the tune of Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You:
Christ is risen! Earth and heaven, nevermore shall be the same.
Break the bread of new creation where the world is still in pain.
Tell its grim, demonic chorus: “Christ is risen! Get you gone!”
God the First and Last is with us. Sing Hosanna everyone!
Amen! And Amen!