Happy Easter! I was asked to write an editorial for a local newspaper on Easter, and thought I’d share it here, too. May today bring you new life and light in surprising and ordinary ways.
Easter is a strange story to swallow. Perhaps this is why we’d rather swallow chocolate eggs perplexingly hatched by a bunny rabbit. Give us chocolate over resurrection. Chocolate is sweet, comforting, predictably satisfying. The resurrection of Jesus sounds like something out of the latest zombie movie, and is full of all sorts of troubling things like earthquakes and the wounds of crucifixion. It’s no wonder we choose confectionary comforts over such a story. As outlandish as a human-sized egg-toting bunny rabbit is, that’s tame compared to God-With-Us dying an unjust state death and being raised again on the third day.
But that is my story as a follower of this Jesus character, and perhaps it’s yours, too. Easter has to mean the outlandish reality of resurrection for me. It has to mean more than fake grass and pastel clothing. It has to mean new life breaking into this world in a shocking and radical way. It doesn’t have to mean this because my belief system will crumble without it, or because I feel the urge as a Christian to “defend” the real roots of Easter. I need Easter to mean resurrection because this world is so desperate for new life. Wars rage, the earth groans with disaster, children hurt children, parents are consumed by the gods of busyness, older folk face echoing loneliness, people struggle to know how they’ll pay today’s bills or deal with tomorrow’s troubles.
I need Easter — we need Easter — because when the forces of death seem so strong, we must celebrate and remember the Force of Life (and no, that is not a Star Wars reference). Easter is a strange story. Believing in resurrection is much more difficult than believing in chocolate. But we must trust that, belief or not, God brings new life to this world anyway, because that is who God is. God is not a God of destruction, God is a God of restoration. This is why Easter matters. And this is why Easter is so much more than just one day. God brings new life to us — all of us — often in strange and startling ways, just as God raised Jesus Christ from the dead with the women as witnesses. No matter which Gospel you read, the reaction to that new life is uniform: fear.
Newness is terrifying. It’s why we buy the same breakfast cereal every week or call our best friend at the same exact time every day. We like routine, familiarity, predictability, and there is nothing routine, familiar or predictable about resurrection. God comes in terrifying and transformative ways to remind us, over and over again, that death does not win, even when it looks like it does. Life defeats death, love defeats fear, joy defeats despair, hope defeats depression, community defeats isolation, forgiveness defeats sin. This is the heart of the Easter story.
May this Easter bring you more than chocolate and bunnies. May it bring you more than big meals and pastel clothing. May it bring you new life, resurrection, in all the places where death deals, especially when it seems strange and impossible to hope for it. After all, strange and impossible stories really are the best ones, aren’t they?