It's Easter morning and I thought I would take a few minutes to ponder and reflect on the meaning of Easter. So what is the meaning of Easter? For many Christians past and present the resurrection story provides the hope of eternal life after death and is the basis for a relationship with God because Jesus death and subsequent rising provides the "atonement" for our sins once and for all. This morning I don't intend to dismiss or challenge the importance of this particular take on the meaning of Easter, nor do I want to get into the historical credibility of this story or the nature of the gospel texts themselves which is an ongoing and never ending debate amongst modern biblical scholars but I do want to explore some other potential implications of the Easter story.
I am fifty three years old and don't anticipate dying anytime soon so the life after death implications of Easter don't resonate with me at this particular time although I acknowledge I could die at any moment. As far as being a sinner I acknowledge I am not what I ought or could be but I trust in the nature of loving God to work out the details of "how" God actually works out the justice aspect of the relationship between our individual and collective sins and the Holiness of God. I don't mean to pick a fight with my Christian brethren out there who take their theology seriously but from where I sit these days I'm at the point where I'm trusting in the mercy of God rather than my intellect to figure out how this whole thing fits together...So, where does that leave someone like me who is currently "somewhat" indifferent about eternal life and the nature of the relationship between sin, the need for justice, and the Holiness of God. Is there any meaning of Easter left for someone like me?
As I look around the world, my community, my country, and my own soul I see death everywhere...and...as one digs deeper one sees the death of a marriage, the death of the hopes and dreams of a young person who has graduated but can't find a job, the death of a business adventure, the death of a happy retirement due to being ripped off by some greedy financial advisers, the death of a spouse due to a sudden unexpected heart attack, the death of a child, the gradual death of our ability to do what we love because of growing old, and the ever increasing death of the American dream for more and more Americans each passing day due to our serious economic problems. Death "is" a part of all our lives. As I reflect on my own life and soul I have experienced the death of a marriage and subsequent romances, the unexpected death of a brother from a heart attack last year, the death of my father when I was only 12, the death of my relationship with my sister, and the death of my ability to function as I wish I could in different areas of my life.
Christianity as I understand it doesn't promise that my life will be happy nor does it promise that things will work out as "I" would hope but the Christian story and the Easter story as I interpret is fundamentally about "hope". The hope for change and the "potential" for resolution and joy in this world and the next. I don't know if I ever be able reconcile my relationship with my sister or if I will ever function as I wish I could in some aspects of my personal life, but I hope I will. As I look around the world and reflect on my own life I do see examples in the world and areas in my own life where death has been conquered and life has returned. In our own history we have conquered the practice of slavery, and women and African Americans now enjoy a level of equality and freedom that they were not afforded for hundreds of years. In my personal life I have experienced certain emotions that were dead for decades and I have a renewed hope for my future as it relates to some areas of my life.
Easter is a story of hope and it points to the possibility in this world and the next that we might all experience the renewal of life in the world and our personal lives. But, sometimes we can't see or experience the renewal of life within and around us because our own expectations get in the way...so...Lord help us all to see and experience the renewal of life that abounds in our world and in our lives and let's celebrate the meaning of the hope that is found in the Easter story today and everyday.