Risen indeed!

My friend Kathy once asked, “Why do we Christians go on and on about the suffering and death of Christ? Why don’t we focus on the real story – the story of resurrection?”

Until this year, I had a ready answer for her. For me, the days leading up to Easter have always been the centerpoint of the year. They give me the chance to go deep, deep into the sacrifice Christ made out of love and obedience.

I reflect on His many humiliations. The pain of being entirely misunderstood by even his closest friends. The loneliness of betrayal – not just by Judas, but by God, who did not make His presence known when it was needed most. The insult of seeing Barabas chosen over him as the one worth saving. The injustice of being tortured and killed. And this most of all: the decision to make this sacrifice, with no assurance that it would be worth it, or that anything good could come of it. And most years, I come away from this time of contemplation feeling grateful and moved.

Easter come early

But this year is different. I simply cannot seem to enter into somber Lenten reflections. For me, the entire season has been “all Easter, all the time.” Perhaps I am simply buoyed up by an early Toronto spring. It could be middle-aged giddiness. But I think the chief contributor to my happy mood was a visit last December with my friend Christine. I had told her I felt my life was stuck. She immediately said, “You need a mind map,” and jumped up to fetch her sketchbook. She lit a candle, we prayed a little, and then she drew a picture of “being stuck.” It was a drawing of a bottle with a stopper in it. And then she asked me, “What’s in the bottle? And what’s in the stopper?”

The rest of the details don’t matter. What matters is this. Before I talked to her, my image for “being stuck” was being mired in a muddy swamp, wheels spinning, unable to get out unless I was bodily hauled out. She exchanged that metaphor for champagne, ready to bubble over as soon as the cork was pulled. And ever since then, my mind has been popping. The metaphor changed, and every else changed with it.

(I knew things had shifted by my reaction to a “Those were the days” reunion for people who work in my field. I like my colleagues very much, and would enjoy spending the evening with them. But I thought, “I don’t feel like an old fart reminiscing about the good old days. I see exciting opportunities right now. My chief question is how to let everyone see what I see.”)

I even feel impatient with this blog entry. I’m really itching to jump back into the discussion begun by Richard, Hamish, Clark and Paul.

Years ago, my pastor Lynn challenged me about the way I saw my life. She said, “You seem to think that the purpose of life is to work, to give back, to make a contribution. But what if the purpose of life was something completely different? What if the purpose was to have fun?” And isn’t that the classic answer to the question, “What is the purpose of man? To love God and enjoy him forever.”

Maybe this is cheap grace. Maybe I am just being superficial. But I’ve decided not to fight it. For this year, at least, I have no profound thoughts. I just feel thankful, hopeful and free.

This Easter, I hope to find an exuberant congregation who I can join in shouting out, “Christ is Risen. Christ is Risen indeed.”

Well, friends, I’m curious about your Easter. An old truth re-experienced? A new idea revealed? Tell us about it.

Also, I’m hoping Christine will go into business, bringing her “radiant thinking” to other lives as well as mine. If you’d like to know more about her and her work, email me and I’ll put you in touch.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Risen indeed!

  1. Barbara Anderson

    Joy, I have been ‘lurking’ and enjoying immensely your blog and the comments. Your metaphor of the bottle and stopper is a good one.
    This Easter, and for several years now, we have been having a Seder during Pesach week because my partner is Jewish. (This year we had it on Good Friday for various reasons) Learning about Jewish teachings and customs has really taught me a lot about Jesus and his historical context. The Pesach breaking of the matza is exactly what Jesus did at the Last Supper before he added the words This is my body, broken for you. The whole meal is a tangible (and edible) reminder of coming out of slavery and the hardships they endured. The blood of a lamb on the door was meant to fool the ‘Angel of Death’ by showing that death had already come to the house so the Angel would pass over that dwelling.
    So, in a sense Easter is telling us that death has already come to us through the death Christ and we have freedom from slavery and death through his resurrection.
    The Pesach is a time of reflection on the past but also a looking forward to the future. ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ has been added by the diaspora obviously but Jerusalem means city of peace (ironic isn’t it?) so it is also a looking forward to shalom when there is peace in the world. Jews have an extra glass of wine and seat for Elijah who’s return in the future is ‘expected’ similar to the Second Coming of Christ.
    I have to say I find it hard to dwell on the suffering of Jesus probably because I live in one of the wealthiest, healthiest nations of all time. We are taught that grief shouldn’t last too long or we’ll get depressed. Sadness and depression require medication (and I have to say I agree with that when it is long term). But as a society we have some kind of need to experience suffering vicariously through reality shows, video games, news and even books. Maybe its so we don’t feel so bad about ourselves if someone else has it worse. But I do like to go right to Easter and forget about Good Friday so I am a part of my culture that thinks of sorrow and suffering as needing a quick fix.

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