All of the Easter stories, each and every version, tell us that death does not have the last word. The killing power of the Empire does not have the last word. God has said No to those powers and Yes to Jesus.
As Dom Crossan and Marcus Borg put it, Easter is God's vindication of Jesus: "Easter affirms that the domination systems of this world are not of God and that they do not have the final word." (The Last Week, 2006)
I went in search of these lines the other day, in light of the news that the U. S. Senate will not seek to reinstate an assault weapons ban. I am looking for that Easter Yes in the face of the gun lobby's control of our Congress.
It is my prayer, as we move through this Holy Week toward Easter, that we can show a little more courage in our churches than we have seen in our Congress. It is my prayer that we can look for that Easter Yes and name it in the face of the domination systems of our age, from the Pentagon to the NRA.
I know that most preachers won't want to preach about gun violence on Easter Sunday. But I also know that this is just about the most important preaching moment in the whole church year. I have seen so many people in church on Easter who come seeking something-maybe they can't name what it is, but they come, wondering if they will find anything of worth. Everyone coming to church this week knows-in exquisite and excruciating detail-the harsh realities of our Good Friday world. I have a hunch they are looking for an alternative. I have a hunch they come into our churches to see if we offer anything different, anything that might help make sense of all the Good Fridays that nobody can deny.
I don't think anybody wants or needs to hear church doctrine. I don't think anybody wants or needs to hear about Easter as some kind of past historical event. I don't think anybody wants or needs to hear vague speech about second chances. And surely nobody wants or needs to hear a policy statement about gun violence prevention or any other issue. But aren't we all looking for some Easter?
So how to tell the story of an Easter Yes in our Good Friday world?
The first storytellers-Mary Magdalene and the others-knew how to do it. They told the story of that empty tomb. They talked about being afraid and looking into that dark place and seeing light. They talked about not seeing Jesus in that tomb and about learning that he was already running ahead of them, out in the Galilee.
And so they went looking. And they found Easter. They found it when they told their story about being afraid and yet looking into the dark place and discovering light. They found Easter when they dared to keep on telling it, despite the power of the Empire to stop them. They found Easter when they dared to tell the other stories, about the loaves and fishes and the good Samaritan and the banquet table.
They found Easter when they dared to talk about Jesus' alternative ways, saying that God's blessing was found not with the mighty but the meek, not with the rich but the poor, not with the persecutor but the persecuted, not with violence but with the peacemaker.
They found Easter when they carried on the practices that Jesus taught them about sharing their goods and welcoming the stranger and caring for the least among them.
They found Easter when they saw that all the power and might of Rome could not stop their alternative story or their alternative way of being in the world.
So let's not be afraid of the dark; we have a story to tell.
Echoes from the Edge
By Danielle Miller, 2012-13 Beatitudes Fellow - March 25th, 2013
Journey to Hope: A Life-Changing Experience in Four Parts
Through theater, interactive stations, prayer, and song, experience the last days of Jesus in a dynamic and life-changing way:
Palm Sunday: Into the City
Holy Thursday: At the Table
Good Friday: From the Shadows
An Easter Celebration : Hope Has Come
Finally, the Poet
By Walter Brueggemann, from Awed to Heaven, Rooted to Earth - March 25th, 2013
Christ is Risen
He is risen indeed!
We are baffled by the very Easter claim we voice.
Your new life fits none of our categories. W wonder and stew and aruge,
and add clarifying adjectives like "spiritual" and "physical."
But we remain baffled, seeking clarity and explanation,
we who are posperous, and full and safe and tenured.
We are baffled and want explanations.
But there are those not baffled, but stunned by the news,
stunned while at minimum wage jobs;
stunned while the body wastes in cancer;
stunned while the fabric of life rots away in fatigue and despair;
stunned while unprosperous and unfull
and unsafe and untenured. . .
Waiting only for you in your Easter outfit,
waiting for you to say, "Fear not, it is I."
Deliver us from our bafflement and our many explanations.
Push us over into stunned need and show yourself to us lively.
Easter us in honesty;
Easter us in fear;
Easter us in joy,
and let us be Eastered. Amen.