We are in that time of year not marked on any calendar and not celebrated in any home – it is the Easter season. We have seven weeks, until the celebration of Pentecost (another holiday not widely observed) in which to ponder what Easter means and the lasting impact Easter has on our lives and our faith.
Celebrating Easter Sunday is a snap. We know just what to do. Sunrise service will happen, rain or shine; this year we took it on the faith that the sun was actually rising as we sang, “Christ the Lord is risen today!” Our Easter service was full and joyfully exuberant. An abundance of flowers surrounded us as we relished music from children, adults, and bells. We declared with enthusiasm that “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”
And then everyone went home. And the Easter season began.
We’re left with the nagging reminder that Easter is not a fairy tale with a tidy ending. Everyone did not, in fact, live happily ever after. What happened was a lot grimmer. The hero of the story – Jesus – was killed in about as brutal a fashion as anyone could imagine. There was betrayal and loss, disappointment and disillusionment, mourning and fear.
Even the resurrection doesn’t cancel out the brutality of Jesus’ death. The Apostles’ Creed insists on repeating the harsh reality – Jesus was “crucified, dead, and was buried. Then he descended into hell.” He was really, really dead. Hope, in that moment, disappeared.
It is not a pretty story. We have to acknowledge Good Friday’s trauma in order to celebrate Easter and the miracle of life after death. Jesus lives again but now he is different. Now he lives with scars. He is forever changed by the violence that took his life.
Violence continues to impact lives today. Survivors are forever marked by evil; they carry the scars of sudden, disrupting loss.
To combat the terror and violence that seems to fill our world, we may crave for a superhero to rise up and defeat our enemies. I suspect the popularity of the latest Avengers movie – 1.2 billion dollars earned worldwide in three days – reflects a desire to have extraordinary powers to face overwhelming enemies.
Instead, we have Jesus. Our wounded savior has been hurt, oppressed, attacked, wrongly accused, betrayed, mocked, and unjustly treated.
Despite balloons and bunnies, flowers and songs, Easter does not allow us to ignore life’s hardships. Instead, Easter provides hope that suffering and violence do not – cannot – have the final word. Even as we acknowledge the pain that exists in our world, we declare our faith in God who is greater than any evil. Jesus lives. Love will have the final word.
We celebrate the Easter season by declaring the enduring power of love. Love wins.