April 16, 2017
Easter Day always brings to mind fond memories from childhood. One that sticks in my mind, perhaps just for the simplicity of the event, is of my two sisters and me in new Easter clothes standing in our front yard in northeast Baltimore. All the while my Mom and Dad are attempting to get us to hold still long enough to get pictures of us in our fresh regalia. This was a big deal. Even as a child I realized that the cost of the new clothes had a significant impact on the family budget.
We knew something special was going on. We knew not only because of the new clothes, but also because such a fuss was being made over us. We also knew something was happening at our home parish, The Church of the Messiah, which was the reason for the dress up. Everything felt new. It was in the excitement of the air. The day itself seemed new. There was a freshness and aliveness among the people as at no other time. I didn’t know why, but this young boy felt new as well. In fact, I knew I was new! Something was happening.
Now I know more clearly that something was happening because something had happened on that first Easter Day. It was not the resurrection of an idea, or a belief system, or a feeling, but of Jesus of Nazareth. Something happened to Jesus himself. The Scriptures are clear about this. “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised: he is not here” (Mark 16:6). And because something happened to Jesus, something is happening amongst his people. We may not be able to explain it all, nor do we need to. Even the Scriptures don’t explain it, they proclaim it – Christ is Risen. So we too gather in a community of worshipful attention and intention to proclaim that something happened to Jesus. By proclaiming that truth, we look for and expect that something is happening among us.
At Easter we gather to shout God’s victory, not our own. We are raised because Jesus is raised. Out of that hope we are invited to live a life in thanksgiving for that gift with hearts bursting with joy, and thereby bring God’s transforming love to bear in all that we do. This new life takes shape as we witness for God’s peace, God’s justice, God’s embrace, and the defeat of anything that keeps anyone in the bondage of not knowing the freedom of God’s hope for her or him. It is precisely within this life that the proclamation of hope to those in need and pain takes place. Jesus’ resurrection is a radical affirmation that it is right now where eternal life becomes real in us as a people of healing for the world.
The great liturgical theologian Aidan Kavanagh said, “The Jesus of our faith died, rose, and became a people.” So we gather as a community to worship the One who is hope. As Christ is alive among us we are given the assurance that nothing can snuff out the life in us that Jesus has resurrected. Nowhere is it clearer to me than in the simple truth of God’s people struggling along with me to embrace our own gifted humanity. We discover along the way that God’s new life is right in the midst of us. We are alive and new once again. Something is happening!