Sunday, April 16, 2006


I was sitting in church this morning and I got to thinking that, you know, we aren't really sure what to do with Easter.
Lent we can do. As much as it is sometimes a stretch to give up something or commit more time to reflect on Christ and his passion and all, with a little discipline it can be done, if not at least attempted.
Palm Sunday we can do because its a celebration of a king. Celebrations we can do. We can wave our palm branches and sing "Ride on, King Jesus".
We can do Good Friday because it is all about suffering and darkness and we all know what that's about.
But Easter is something else. Resurrection is something completely outside of anything we can experience or imagine. Discipline, partying, suffering are all things we know and have experienced in the day-to-day. But resurrection we can't seem to wrap our heads around. You see this in the world of art. There are countless depictions of Jesus' passion, his suffering and death. But the resurrected Jesus is a subject seldom portrayed; only the bravest and most skilled artists can pull it off. How does one go about showing with paint and brush someone who has seen death and lived to tell about it? It seems like it will always be either too ordinary or too extraordinary to be convincing.
Redemption we can sometimes get, I'll give us that. We can create paintings and write songs and make movies to show what redemption looks like (that scene at the end of "Shawshank Redemption" where Tim Robbins lifts up his arms to the sky and the rain comes immediately to mind). But redemption is a far cry from bodily resurrection. Redemption, in our world, is never full. Sure the prince will rescue the damsel, but he'll never quite get over his drinking problem. As we leave Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman on the beach, we can't help but think either a) they'll eventually get caught and end up in far deeper shit than they ever were before they escaped (sorry for those who haven't seen it yet...oh wait...haven't seen Shawshank Redemption? Slap yourself for me, then go rent it and watch's brilliant), b) that the time they spent in prison will have had some latent effect on their mental states and sometime later they'll go nuts and start dressing like pirates, or c) (and most likely) both of them will, perhaps sooner, perhaps later, die. In the end after 'happily ever after' we all know death will have the last laugh. But death no more? It's a bottomless mystery.
And so on Easter morning, it just seems awkward to me. We just really aren't quite sure what to do. We extinguished the last light on Good Friday night. And then what? Light it up again? But we know that this is a different kind of light than that which was extinguished. Simply relighting the candle just brings us back to Christmas. Easter is something different. New life is hard to imagine when we are so fully involved in this one. And so Easter remains something of an unknown, as probably it should. It's something we will probably not quite get until we've climbed out of the grave ourselves and heard Jesus say to us, "Take off your grave clothes and Live."