To say that I love Easter is an understatement. I LIVE for Easter. I live for the celebration of the Resurrection. I live for the message that Life has won out over death. I live for saying "Alleluia!" again. I live for the anthems of "Jesus Christ is risen today!" and "Come and rise up from the grave!" As I sit here listening to my Easter playlist, it's hard for me to resist the urge to jump and dance around. I don't know what to do with myself! I am overwhelmed with Joy. And it's hard for me not to include a million "!!!!!!!!" in this post.
But even in the midst of my joy - even though I can't wipe the smile off my face and even though I've been shouting, "Jesus!! Alleluia!!" all morning... a part of me is still stuck on Good Friday. I am overwhelmed with joy, but confused as to why not everyone is feeling the same joy.
I attended a really interesting and cool Good Friday worship on Friday. The service was divided into different parts that focused on a specific "oppressed communities," if you will. These groups of people included immigrants, the economically disadvantaged, single mothers, children, women, the unemployed, and prisoners. During each focus group, members from the congregation were invited to approach the cross if they were included in the group, or were affected by someone in that group. During each group of people, we all joined in song, scripture, reflection, and prayer focused on the needs of the specific group standing at the cross. This format and the content of the service really motivated me to reflect on the message of the Cross, and its relevance for our world here and now.
But since the service, I have been disturbed with the question, "If Jesus died on the cross and rose again to conquer death, sin, and the powers of evil... than why does so much evil still exist?" Why do we still have these suffering people? Why is there still so much pain? If Life had the final word... than why does death still prevail in our world?
We could get into a bunch of discussions about free will/the devil/God and suffering/original sin/whatever, but I've had those conversations before, and I don't want to just talk about how this all doesn't really make sense. I've been confused in the past, I've doubted, I've questioned... but I think I have finally come to a point where I am content with moving forward from those conversations into doing something that reflects the Gospel message... even if it doesn't all always make sense.
I think what I am feeling this Resurrection day is a huge NEED for the message of Easter. I'm not so much focused on the questions that are evoked in myself when I read the Passion story; rather I'm looking at the necessity for this story to be made real, despite confusion within and surrounding it. Yes, I left the Good Friday service feeling distraught. But I also left feeling compassion and the need to DO something.
And that is what I think Jesus calls us to... to DO something that reflects the message that Life overcomes death. That's where my theology has found its grounding.
I think many people find joy on this day because they realize that they have been spared from eternal death and punishment. I do not doubt that to be true. Christ's sacrifice and defying death conquered all - even that inevitable Cross moment when our heart stops beating and air stops flowing from our lungs. God has gifted us eternity in God's presence. And for that I am truly grateful. But is that really all that today is about? Is the Resurrection really only relevant for that day when we stop breathing?
We have opportunities to live out the Resurrection everyday, all the time. We are constantly surrounded by suffering people - whether they are prisoners or the unemployed; addicts or asylum seekers; homeless folks or abused children. They might be our roommate struggling with a fear of the future; a middle schooler getting bullied at school; or an old person suffering from loneliness.
So I think today I am not only overwhelmed with joy; but I am also motivated by hope. Hope that the Resurrection will be made real as often as God reveals God's good self. Hope that Life will win out over all situations of death. Hope that God will use us to bring about joy, peace and Life to all people.
"The good news of the resurrection of Jesus is not that we shall die and go home to be with him, but that he has risen and comes home with us, bringing all his hungry, naked, thirsty, sick prisoner brothers with him." (Clarence Jordan)