Friday, April 16, 2010

Easter: The Non-submission of Jesus to Our Designs

Chaplain Mike notes (again) that Easter is a season, and there's a reason for that.  The Risen Christ walked the earth for several weeks, having been dead for days, until his ascension recorded in the book of Acts.  While the liturgical church observes the Easter season, I have mostly come to know Easter as a single day, one we often associate with springtime, chocolate eggs, flowers around the altar, churches packed with folks in the best clothes who normally never show up, feasts of ham.

So why a season?  Christmas has a season too- the joyful anticipation of "God with us."  Easter?  The slack-jawed, stunned walking, talking, eating, and abiding with Jesus after he has died.  That the man you spent the last 3 years with, who was brutally crucified and most definitely dead, is now alive in the flesh.

One good way I can think of to remove my attention from my personal problems is to see a dead man walking. For 50 days straight, no less. The Resurrection, and thus the "programming" of the church year with a season devoted to it, is designed to counteract the effective gnosticism that most of us are wallowing in when it comes to spirituality.  Instead of seeing "God in my life," it is now myself who is being located in God's life.  By way of illustration, imagine the tides, or the phases of the moon. There's nothing we really do to cause these things to happen, nor could we prevent them if we tried.  We are "located" within those realities. We don't make them submit to our lives.  In other times, cultures were shaped by these natural rhythms, bending and shifting to shape the life of the people around the ordained principles of the earth.  Like harvest time, nighttime walks under the full moon.  We could do three bad things with objective realities like winter, or the Resurrection: stand, eyes shut tight, in denial that there is a rhythm and design to the universe that we don't control.  Ignore them, as if they didn't matter. Or we could consider them to matter only as far as they're capable of serving our personal designs. This is the category we find ourselves in America's 21st century.

The Risen Christ among us marginalizes the petty distractions we like to prioritize and the designs we want to subject him to.  Like liberalism.  Or seeing healing miracles.  Or how to get our churches to "reach out" more.  Jesus' brilliant and sovereign choice to appear to his disciples in the flesh for several weeks gives them, and us, the gift of sight. Not of "spiritual" sight.  Sight in the flesh.  That's what the Easter season is for: for us, the Church universal beginning with the first disciples, to see with our real eyes, the in-the-flesh reality of Jesus' Risen presence in the physical world in which we find ourselves.  


Bob said...

OK, sorry to gush, but this is a really fine insight. To tell you the truth, I never thought about the significance of the 50 days of being among the disciples again after the crucifixion. Fifty ways of "being real" and really alive with them. Remember what John says at the start of his first epistle, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands." You don't make such a point about an ordinary man. You make the point, I saw him, I touched him, about a man who was dead, then alive. A man who, you are convinced, was "from the beginning." Amazing!

Erin said...

thanks for saying that.