Easter was strange this year. The day arrived. Eggs had been decorated and baskets were filled. The sun was shining and dinner preparations had been made. Although resurrection is central to my theology, I didn’t feel much like celebrating. I saw the Facebook posts wishing folks a happy Easter and proclaiming the risen Christ. I thought I should acknowledge the day and so I stared at my screen trying to write a greeting of my own. After a few attempts, I gave up because nothing sounded right. I wished a few people happy Easter but mostly in response to having been wished one. Actually I think I said “hoppy Easter” more often because I could hardly get the word “happy” out. By mid-afternoon I concluded that I was just too tired. I spent my Easter feeling pretty empty and lethargic.
And then came Monday. I realized that it wasn’t life that had worn me out and ruined my Easter. It was Christians. It was Indiana and pizza shop owners and $840,000 and a whole lot of enthusiasm from Christians celebrating discrimination. But the discrimination didn’t stop there because there were also Christians who discriminated against the discriminating Christians. Everywhere I looked there were angry, pointing fingers, with most of them belonging to Christians. No wonder I didn’t feel much like proclaiming a resurrected Jesus because there didn’t seem to be much evidence of one.
And so I did what I always do when I feel like this. I unplug from the world as much as I can. I spend time in the sun if it’s out. I put my hands in the soil. I prepare and eat fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables. I spend time with those I love. I surround myself with life. I remind myself of what is true and real. Somehow the tactile experiences of nature, life, and love bring me back to a place of feeling centered and whole. I am reminded of what is real. And what is not. The empty rhetoric, though not gone, loosens its grip on me. I read poetry and stories that breathe life into me. I sing songs of praise and lament as a way to carry both the good and the bad. I reconnect with a faith that isn’t fueled by anger, entitlement, or selfishness. And I start to find myself again. I start to find my faith again. This year Easter came on a Monday.
Jesus was asked many questions. Whereas he often answered with confusing stories or a question in return, one question he answered with absolute clarity: What is the greatest commandment? To love God with all that you’ve got, and to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:28-31). This is important, critical, imperative – love God, love neighbor, love self. Fully. Wholly. Completely. This is not easy even with significant effort. If we are to make any progress on what Jesus calls the greatest commandment, we have got to think, breathe, live, and act in love. Sometimes love requires a tough call. However love never belittles, demeans, or diminishes.
The resurrection is meant to proclaim God’s love to and for all. Lately I have been hearing a lot more proclamations about self-preservation and entitlement than of God’s love. Maybe we have gotten so busy with our proclamations about God that we’ve forgotten to experience God. Maybe we have gotten so busy speaking for God, we have forgotten to listen to God. Maybe Easter was a reminder of how much we still need a resurrected Christ.