Madeline and I are sitting home alone on Easter morning, while the rest of the Bible Belt is in church. Madeline developed a nasty bug last night, spiking a 102° fever and throwing up 3 or 4 times; I don't really remember. All I know is that I'm washing A LOT of sheets today. She won't be able to sing her Easter songs that she's been practicing for weeks now, or show off her Easter dress this morning. And while I'm a little bummed that I won't have pictures of those things, I'm not at all bummed that we missed the events themselves. Because Easter isn't about sporting your Sunday Best and singing songs. I'll take pictures of Madeline in her dress next week; and she certainly doesn't know the difference between singing last week and singing today. It's just a day, after all. April 24 isn't holy - Jesus is.
We're celebrating the real deal here at home today, and it's been really precious and special so far.
Here are my assorted, stream of consciousness thoughts on Easter.
Madeline is too young to understand the resurrection concept, mostly because she's too young to understand the DEATH concept. Death doesn't mean anything to her yet, it's nothing to fear, nothing to mourn. She's had no experience with death - it's theoretical at best.
BUT, she does understand the concept of alive.
People are alive, rocks are not; she gets that. Rocks cannot give you advice. People can. Rocks cannot move or act. People can. Rocks cannot care for you or befriend you. People can.
And like rocks or any other dead thing, dead gods cannot counsel you - only the Living God can do that. Dead gods cannot care for you - not in the present. It's a one-sided conversation, which is futile and a total waste of time if you ask me. Dead gods cannot move. They cannot orchestrate things, change things, and sustain things as they see fit. They cannot act on your behalf; they cannot act at all - because they are dead. Dead gods certainly cannot save. They are of no use at all - no different than positive thinking. Praying to a dead god is just as worthless as praying to some stupid inanimante object, like a couch.
That's why Easter is such a big deal, the biggest deal. Because a lot of people have died for something they believe in, or for people they love. A lot of people from a lot of different faiths, and from no faiths at all, have died for things. A lot of times it's inspiring, often it's honorable, but at the end of the day - they're dead.
But Jesus - Jesus is alive! So this morning Madeline and I celebrated Easter! We celebrated that Jesus can take care of us because he's alive. He hears our prayers because he's alive. He can show us mercy because he's alive. (Madeline has a pretty solid understanding of mercy - not getting what you deserve. Often, as my literal hand of discipline is about to land hard on her fanny she'll shout, "I WANT MERCY!")
As a "grown up," the resurrection amazes me - the truth of the gospel amazes me. I didn't mean to be silent on Good Friday, but every word sounded pale and flat and lame compared to the truth of the gospel. Comapred to the death of Christ and what it means. What it meant when he said, "It is finished." What it meant when the curtain tore. I couldn't describe the brutality, I couldn't describe the love. A sacrificial lamb for all of mankind, a ransom payment, justification, redemption. I couldn't scratch the surface of any of it.
However, this poem about the resurrection seemed strong enough to share.
Make no mistake: if He rose at all it was as His body; if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle, the Church will fall.
It was not as the flowers, each soft Spring recurrent; it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the eleven apostles; it was as His flesh: ours.
The same hinged thumbs and toes, the same valved heart that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then regathered out of enduring Might new strength to enclose.
Let us not mock God with metaphor, analogy, sidestepping, transcendence; making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded credulity of earlier ages: let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché, not a stone in a story, but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of time will eclipse for each of us the wide light of day.
And if we will have an angel at the tomb, make it a real angel, weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen spun on a definite loom.
Let us not seek to make it less monstrous, for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty, lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed by the miracle, and crushed by remonstrance.
—John Updike, “Seven Stanzas At Easter,” 1964
"If He rose at all it was as his body...Let us not mock God with metaphor, analogy, sidestepping, transcendence; making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded credulity of earlier ages..."
Whew. He is risen indeed!
"Oh, Death, where is your sting? Oh, Hell, where is your victory? Oh, church, come stand in the light! The glory of God has defeated the night! Our God is not dead, He's alive, He's alive! Christ is risen from the dead, trampling over death by death! Christ is risen from the dead, we are one with him again! Come awake, come awake..." [Matt Maher]
My insides are leaping; Hallelujah!