Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti! ¡Cristo ha resucitado! ¡En verdad ha resucitado!
Late Friday night I was walking the dog under a glorious full moon after the Good Friday church service, and I got to thinking about how this is my twelfth Easter in Waynesboro, and that it’s gotten old. Maybe I’ve gotten old. Watch it. I’ve noticed we always arrive at Easter each year proclaiming “Christ is risen!” and “Christos Anesti!” and “¡Cristo ha resucitado!”But it doesn’t sound sincere. It doesn’t sound like we mean it, or that we even really know what we mean. Instead it sounds more like that apology you were forced to give your next door neighbor after you sent a ball flying through their living room window with dad standing right behind you. No, that didn’t happen to me either. That’s something Dennis the Menace would do. Or that thank you note you were forced to write Aunt Clara for that nightmare of a pink bunny suit. Okay, that happened to Ralphie, not you.
But all this past week, there just didn’t seem to be much joy and anticipation for Easter and whatever Easter really means. Perhaps the florists and the dress shops were excited this past week. They get to move some merchandise and get back in the black. The chocolate shops at the mall are also happy, and the greeting card stores, and the pet stores. By the way, mental health experts don’t recommend you buy baby ducklings and bunny rabbits just because they’re cute and it’s Easter. They do grow up to become full-size ducks and full-size rabbits, which if you’re not serious about raising, you just end up releasing in your backyard, creating herds of feral ducks and rabbits that eventually terrorize the neighborhood, but in a fluffy and cute way, until they eat your garden and leave a mess in your driveway. So the people who do get excited about Easter are not doing it for the reasons we are here today. And some people here today don’t look at all happy for the reasons we always thought we celebrate Easter. They will say they’re happy, but more because they got everyone in church without a lot of drama, and they found parking, and they got to sit together, and grandma will be happy to know they went to church, and it feels good to be Catholic at Easter, and we all get the day off on Monday. But why do we celebrate Easter at all? Is anything about our Easter celebration related anymore to the resurrection and new life and God?
Recently I have had to bury my head in the scripture readings and liturgies of Holy Week. But every now and then I glanced at the paper, and I listened to the radio, and I watched portions of the evening news. Not a lot, but enough to notice that there’s a lot of unhappy people out there. Lots of protests have been going on—in Sacramento CA after the death of Stephon Clark 2 weeks ago, and in Baton Rouge LA after police video was released on the arrest and death of Alton Sterling; in Kentucky with teachers over pensions, and in Arizona over wages following the successful 9 day strike in West Virginia earlier this month; in Washington DC and in many other cities and localities across the country with high school students over the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland FL; in many of the same places with gun rights advocates opposed to stricter gun ownership laws; in Los Angeles at the Oscars against sexual misconduct, gun violence, and equal opportunities for minorities in the arts; in Washington DC and cities across the country with the women’s march in January; in several cities around the country in solidarity with Charlottesville against racism and violence after events there last fall; and on a number of college and university campuses that bring in high profile speakers with extreme racist leanings. That’s just the protests going on in this country. People are protesting as well in the UK, Venezuela, Iran, Poland, the Middle East. And there’s a lot of unhappiness over Russia, Facebook, President Trump, the Veterans Administration, the EPA, the NRA, Congress, the Census Bureau, and the weather.
In summary, there’s a lot of unhappy people out there. But stay with me, and breathe. I’m not advocating the merits of any of these protests, just acknowledging the widespread unhappiness. I do not do protests, so don’t come after me. I just read the scriptures and I watch the news, and after some prayer and arguing with God, I come up with ideas that I offer for your consideration. Now that would look good on a T-shirt. But it needs to be catchy. I’ve seen cool shirts that describe what other people do. But I do not drink, and I do not give advice to people who want to sit on a throne made of swords. So when people get up off their couches to carry signs and march in protest, it’s probably because they are in pain, or they want their lives to be even better than it is at the moment. Sometimes both. Now in your opinion with a show of hands, would any of this unhappiness go away with knowing Jesus Christ is risen from the dead? Exactly. That I think is because most Christians who do go to church on Easter Sunday or any Sunday do not see the resurrection of Jesus Christ making one bit of difference in their lives outside church. Again, I just come up with ideas for your consideration.
Should Christians serious about the resurrection carry signs and march in protest to get Easter back to its original purpose? I’m sure that wouldn’t raise any eyebrows or anyone’s blood pressure. And it would be stupid and a complete waste of time because we would be protesting ourselves. We don’t realize it, but we already have the power to get Easter back to its original purpose. But do we even know what that looks like?
We know Easter is a Christian feast that celebrates Jesus Christ’s triumph over the forces of darkness, selfishness, sin, and death by his rising to new life three days after his horrific death on a cross outside Jerusalem some 2000 years ago. The life and teachings of Jesus proclaimed God’s willingness to heal our brokenness and forgive our transgressions. And he instructed those who would follow him to take up their crosses each day and walk in his footsteps. He gave his own body and blood as food and drink to sustain us for the challenging journey ahead. And he promised us a seat at the eternal wedding banquet when he returns to take us to himself. Then he gave himself up into the hands of sinners so that we might know mercy and enjoy the very life of God.
If we still do not know mercy or enjoy the life of God that Jesus won by his death and resurrection, we will be content to observe a peripherally Christian Easter. Holy Week will not mean any different from any other week of the year, unless it’s also spring break. Easter will be about loosening restrictions and returning to old habits we set aside for Lent, and lots of chocolate, and excesses, and complaining about people we don’t like, and partisan politics, and chaos.
Just offering ideas for your consideration.
Rolo B Castillo © 2018