Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Story

Once upon a time, over two thousand years ago, a man named Jesus lived in a faraway land.  He was born in the hay among the cows and sheep, his young parents in shock and awe.  He beat the odds, as they would say today, and became the most famous man in all of history.  Perhaps this was the first thing he taught us:  that no matter our humble beginnings there are no limits on our life.

Around the age of 12, as this boy was beginning his journey out of boyhood into manhood, he was drawn to spiritual things.  He had a great yearning in his heart for knowledge.  Instead of hanging out at the mall, he slipped away from his parents and spent time "at the church" with the rabbis.

Time passed.  He grew into a man.  There was no media back then but people still began to follow him wherever he went.  They listened to what he had to say.  They watched him perform miracles.  He was charismatic.  Just to be in his presence was uplifting. Just to touch the hem of his garment was healing.

The leaders began to get a little worried.  What if this continued?  What if they lost power and their control of the people?  Hmmm.  Their worry turned to riot as they demanded the death of this man.

They did it in public.  They could have killed him at night out in the fields.  No one would have known. But they wanted to make a point.  "You people cannot think for yourselves.  You'd better fall in line with the government or you will be sorry.  Just look what is happening to him."  Even some of Jesus's closest friends were afraid and betrayed him.

Back then the punishers wanted people to suffer.  They made it hard, humiliating, slow, inhumane.  They crucified them, broke their legs.  They mocked his ideas so they would break too and die with him.  Ha.  That didn't work.

A rich disciple of Jesus named Joseph asked Pilate for Jesus's dead body and Pilate, feeling a little squishy about the whole thing, said okay.  Joseph honored the body of his friend, cleansed it, wrapped in white, and laid it inside a new tomb he had just built.  At least he could do that.

I could say the rest is history since today is Easter.  Jesus didn't stay in that tomb for long.  He wasn't finished.  He came back.  He didn't die.  We don't either.

We remember and memorialize those we love.  And those who have impacted the world and our lives.  So today the whole Christian world does that.  We do it with Easter bunnies, and Easter egg hunts, and new dresses and deviled eggs.  We go to church and read Scripture.  We celebrate the good, not the bad, not the suffering.  Not the agonizing hours he hung upon the cross to teach us about everlasting life in such a poignant way we would never forget.

So this man who was so threatening had the last Word after all.  Love.  Goodness.  Forgiveness.  Power.  Humility.  Hope.  Joy.  Rest.  Brotherhood.  Newness of life.  Always another chance.  Always another Spring.

Happy Easter!

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