All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death, in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life. (Philippians 3:10-11 GNT)
Thursday, April 02, 2015
Surviving Easter in an Evangelical World
Easter, alongside Christmas, is one of the highest points of symbolic reflection in the Christian year. We appropriately reflect together with other believers on the work accomplished on the cross and empty tomb. We create space and time for celebration and joy! These are all good things from our Father who gives good gifts.
My experiences of Easter in my 26 years of Christian pilgrimage have often been a bit discouraging, unfortunately. Easter celebrations, in my limited experience of the Evangelical world, present a shallow triumphalism that has little continuity with Good Friday or the life that Jesus continues to live as the Risen Lord. Too often the unspeakable suffering of Good Friday and the gut-wrenching silence and shameful failure of Holy Saturday are lost in the rush to celebratory shouts of Easter Sunday. What does this say about us - about what we value? What does this say about the gospel we actually live by?
As one who is often in some kind of physical or emotional pain, honesty permits me to say that this weekend doesn’t bring me much hope. The places where I can take my pain, suffering and mind-numbing confusion are eviscerated in the attempt to present “our best face” for visitors on Easter Sunday morning. What’s up with that, by the way? Why is it, that in order to feel welcome at Easter Sunday, I have to go visit another church? The guilt and pressure to serve and “make space” for visitors is quite overwhelming at times. I feel like I’m part of an effort to make a good impression on a first date.
Now, I realize that I’m probably over-reacting a bit here; that there are things being “triggered” in me that are provoking an emotional response stronger than what is probably fair. But, does that make it any less real or important? I bring these things up in the hope that Jesus can heal these things in me and in his church. I love the church and long for the day when suffering and glory are not two disparate bookends to a fragmented story, but lovers intertwined in the mystery and intimacy of relational union and communion. This is what it means to know Jesus, folks. Intimacy with Jesus creates capacity to hold suffering and joy easily and naturally.