Greg Garrett: Leaning into Easter

A friend reminded me the other day that it was the season of Easter, and by Gumby, I better write something about it here at The Other Jesus. And she was right, as she often is, and now that my Baylor grades are finished and submitted-which feels a bit like resurrection in itself-I've got a moment to sit and collect my thoughts and ask how we see the world through resurrection eyes.

It's a question that matters, because although we celebrate Easter Sunday in all sorts of Christian traditions, I fear we don't always really celebrate-or believe in-Resurrection.

Something that mattered to me died last year. I had built a large part of my life around it, and it didn't last, and in the aftermath, I felt grief and loss and anger and all the things we are told we experience when it is the end of something, whether that something is a person, place or thing.

Our lives are a constant succession of Good Fridays, and whether we acknowledge it or not, what we hope and pray for is for Resurrection, when what was lost may be found-or when something even more beautiful arises. I have lived a life with my share of loss and sorrow, I have lost at least my share of things and people I cared about, and I know the depth of feeling that in Holy Week we ascribe to Friday and Saturday, when Jesus is killed, and when he lies dead and mourned in a borrowed tomb.

It feels like the end. Darkness. Oblivion.

Most of my life I have been reacting to my religious family of origin, where the supernatural aspects of Christianity were front and center. There was a flood. Adam bit into an apple. Jesus raised Lazarus-and was himself bodily, actually, raised on the third day. As many readers know, I wandered away from this faith into a desert of disbelief and rationality, where the Jesus Seminar and its voting on which parts of the Bible were literally true represented a cooling antidote. I found my way at last, by way of story, to a faith in the Jesus of the Bible and in the Jesus who walks alongside me every day.

And I got there because of Resurrection.

In the darkest hours of my life, when everything seemed to be dead or dying, including me, God showed up and showed me that this death was not the end of things, but only the beginning.

God showed me there was a plan for me which did not end where I thought it did, where the world said it would.

God showed me there was new life where I saw only darkness and decay.

And the story of Jesus's death and resurrection was a vital part of my leaning with confidence into God's plan.

Paul tells us that what God did for Jesus, he will do for all of us. Jesus is the first-born of the new creation, where death and pain and sin no longer hold sway over the earth. And this story is spiritually true: God is in the business of new life, of hope, of love, and Resurrection proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I don't know how you approach the story of Easter, whether it's a fairy tale or a happening tale.

But I want to encourage you to lean into it, to trust it, to believe that Good Fridays do not get the last word.

Last year something I cared for died.

This Easter, something new came to life in my life, something beautiful and strong, something that clearly is a gift from God.

I believe in Resurrection. I have experienced it.

I am experiencing it now.

And I want to testify: Easter is real, hope is real, love is real, and God is real.

My Easter prayer for all of us this year is that we learn to lean into Easter, to trust it, to believe that God is moving here and now in all of our lives.

Because Good Friday at last makes way for Easter, may the Lord be praised.

[Taken with permission, originally posted 5/10/11.]