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The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts is minister emeritus of First United Methodist Church in Monroeville, AL.

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Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Easter for All Seasons

April 01, 2010

Religion has always developed around those areas and aspects of life we do not understand, not around those areas we do understand, or think we understand. When our world is manageable we may tip our hats toward some sort of higher power in a conventional fashion. Other people do not feel they need anything religious to help negotiate life when they are doing all right on their own. But, when life breaks open at the seams and we are standing before some mystery that is larger than life and beyond comprehension, we begin to look at and think of life in a different way.

It is no accident that when we are looking for spiritual insight and power we walk up a hill outside Jerusalem and stand as close as we dare to the tragic scene of a crucifixion, where a gaunt figure hangs between heaven and earth and between life and death, as we hang on to every word we hear. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do"..."This day thou shalt be with me in paradise"... "Father, into your hands I place my spirit". What tragedy! What mystery! But, we are drawn to it like a magnet.

When our souls are empty and our hearts ache and we do not understand life, we walk on out to a graveyard, to a tomb that is open and empty. In the presence of that tremendous mystery, which nobody can begin to explain, where by some divine alchemy, death and tragedy get transformed into light and life, we find hope, encouragement, and the will to go on.

Every now and then, just when we think we cannot go on, something strange - sometimes simple - happens and we get a quick glimpse into the heart of God's eternal mysteries. A stranger says or does something and then disappears forever. A tragedy turns into a triumph; a miracle happens before our eyes; a child is born or dies or says or does something; and our eyes are opened, our hearts are melted with love, and for a few seconds, the mysteries of the universe are laid bare before our very eyes.

Sometimes Easter happens on a dark Tuesday afternoon in December, and for a moment you feel ‘in touch' with someone or something important with which you have been ‘out of touch' for a long time. Sometimes an angel touches our life in mid-summer and suddenly we see and understand things gloriously different. We stop being afraid of old ghosts that have haunted us ever since we can remember. We quit caring about all the wrong things and learn how to empty our life of junk. After all, Easter is a day of miracles for the dead, and all of us are or have been or will be dead.

Whenever death happens we need an Easter happening.

 


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