Posted by: Beverly Dale | April 5, 2010

Reflections on Easter 2010

The high priests during the Roman occupation were appointed by Roman authorities and paid to keep the peace. When you know this bit of information, Caiaphus’ statement that it is better for one man to die than for a whole nation begins to make a lot of sense. He was all about keeping the peace. That is why the Roman empire paid him.

However, any time we cut deals to make our lives easier and, in so doing, shift our integrity a bit more to the back burner, we run the risk of numbing our consciences. When this happens we risk losing our souls. At the empty tomb, the unexpected visitors asked the astonished women why they sought the living among the dead. I think Easter is best interpreted when we can see that Holy Week was indeed a clash, a confrontation of the living with the dead. The living were those whose lives had been transformed by the one they knew as Yeshua, whom Christians call the risen Christ. The dead were those for whom Jesus prayed because they knew not what they did! They were people caught up in the power plays, the status games, the injustice and inequality of the systems.

Although by the end of the week, it seemed to be a time of grief and loss, a time to surrender, the post-Easter church knows that God had other plans.

Jesus revealed a God who had other plans when he refused to grab a sword in the Gethsemane garden–a God who had other plans when he stood before Pilate, beaten but unbowed, when he hung on a cross but refused to swear a curse, asking instead for forgiveness for those who were blindly participating in the carrying out of the wishes of the empire. The experience of Holy Week is ultimately that God’s plans are greater than any death-dealing forces of empire and of the world. And they are never our plans.

As we each go through our own deep valleys it is always good to remember that God’s plans, as evidenced by the resurrection story, are always bigger and better, more astonishing, more astounding, and beyond our wildest dreams. God’s plans are based on the simple truth that we are not separate from one another. We are one people, God’s people. We are not better or more than one another, we are all created in God’s image.

Some of us have just forgotten it. Some of us have never heard it. Some of us don’t believe it. Some are dead to the good news, sleeping in a comfortable coma of self-righteousness.

But God made us for love, to be alive with love. It is in our nature. It is just hard to let go, either to give in and receive or to let go and give. But according to Jesus’ teaching God’s love is never parceled out grudgingly. No one is left behind. God never loves some more than others, ah, but God never lets us off the hook when our neighbors are treated poorly.

Easter reveals that the Divine moves in mysterious ways but, for us, this is almost always through the willing hands that have picked up their cross and whose feet are following Jesus wherever it takes them, our hands and our feet.

The visitors in the tomb are asked, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Indeed, why do we seek the living among the dead?

Why do we continue to expect the world to lead us to peace or to create a just distribution of resources? After all, the world does not know nor does it understand we are made for love.

And why are we content to comfort ourselves with crumbs when it is to the banquet that we are called? It is the feast of life where love knows no limits, and love is never stopped by the empire’s power, nor by the power of death itself.

Just as Jesus invaded the locked and closed doors of an upper room where his frightened followers believed it was over, so God’s love always invades where we least expect it to appear. Oh yes, there are nail marks and there are scars. This happens when we seek the living from among the dead and non-violently follow this one named Jesus who may well lead us to our own crucifixion. For to be crucified with Christ we must lay aside our self-interested, ego-driven ways, take up our cross, and head up the hill to Golgotha, if that is what it takes. Love propels us. Why do we do it? To follow the footsteps of the living Jesus is to love without striking out at the enemy. It is to love those who have forgotten they are beautiful and now march in conformity with the world’s standards. Those of us who believe in Life, this banquet of life, have not called loudly enough to awaken them from their death slumber.

But the post-Easter church knows: God always has bigger plans than we dared to dream, revising our boundaries outward, moving in to love us at our most unlovable.

Love always invades the locked and closed doors of our hearts telling us to love more extravagantly, live more dangerously, risk more daringly in the name of Love.

Faith says to risk living by the audacious standards of Jesus, the standard that does no harm, that moves toward justice and a better world. Here. Now. In this very place, in this very hour. In you. In me. It begins here and, as the post-Easter church we can clearly see love always wins, always wins! According to the mystic Sufi poet Hafiz, God is our Beloved and he writes:

“Love wants to reach out and manhandle us, break all our teacup talk of God….God wants to manhandle us, lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself and practice (His) dropkick. The Beloved sometimes wants to do us a great favor: Hold us upside down and shake all the nonsense out.” (1)

This is the God of the Easter experience who finds life where we thought there was only death. Easter is about OUR resurrection, our embrace of love that transforms us and our world. We are the living. We are resurrected ones. We have seen Jesus in the living and in the loving, and the dead come back to life. And the abundance, my friend! The abundance of feasting on a love that has no end, no barrier, no beginning or end. The love that outsmarts and outlasts all empires and cannot be contained by the power of death itself.

Easter is about resurrection and resurrection is about the surprise that, guess what? Love wins!

Now, whose side are we on?

Copyright © 2010 Rev Dr Beverly Dale

passionworks.upennca.org

1) “Tired of Speaking Sweetly” in The Gift, Poems by Hafiz, translations by Daniel Ladinsky, p 187.

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Responses

  1. Rev.Bev.: I love your Easter essay. You are such a good writer I can hardly stand it. If you changed “tea cup” to “tea bag” the whole focus would be clearer. “Tea Cup” reminds me of Greg Mortenson’s great book. Tea Bag would be unmistakable. Many thanks.
    I have just finished a series of back sugeries (4) and am having a long recovery this time. Otherwise I’m in good spirits.
    LOL, Art.


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