Can Easter Take a Pass?

by Rosemary Gray-Snelgrove

…The incarnation is about “flesh (carne) real people in real time, not some timeless myth and meaningless jargon like “Jesus died for our sins.” The sins are still evident and our role is to help remove the still living bodies off of the cross.

Ted Schmidt, Community Theologian, Theology in the Vineyard

“Jesus Christ is Risen Today” — Even just singing this with others on an Easter morning lifts the soul to a spring-welcoming, winter-dispelling high point.  Joy!  Many ways to reach it in this celebration, notwithstanding the very sobering awareness that the sin of the world has not been banished, and we are so often complicit in it. 

But Such Divine Liturgy!

The structure and rhythm of the Easter season is exquisite.  In particular, the liturgical practices of those churches given to the use of well-tried ritual.  The elements have been the same for generations but one marvel of the season is the degree to which fresh creativity is applied by each wave of artists as music, art, lighting, dance and drama are added.  Start with the Wednesday ashes and move through 40 days of self-denial (good causes aided), with weekly journeys through the Stations of the Cross around the church walls.  It ends at the Sunday of the Palms:  “All Glory laud and honour “ ringing in the singing of branch-waving  congregants in the aisles.  Holy Week contains the mysteries of blessed oil and special once-a-year recipes produced and the unwrapping and freshening up of seasonal garments.  We have been led relentlessly and inexorably for weeks toward Holy Thursday and the Tridium of Easter weekend.  The crucible awaits as we ready to walk with Jesus: the Garden, the Courtyard, the Via, the Hill.  We leave for home on Friday exhausted by all the standing, chanting, praying , listening. And begin the long Saturday wait until, at Midnight Vigil the doors are thrown open to the Kingdom. 

Free at last!  Not just you and me!

Welcome into the eternal light of Christ’s presence because he’s not dead.  He is Risen.  And somehow, by loving us and his father enough to follow a path that made – and makes – some deep sense to the human soul, he carries us into the very heart of God’s joy in us.  And for days, through Easter week, the feeling can last.  Let’s dance – we are loved!

We feel connected to our Church sisters and brothers.  We’ve all been through something together.  It’s not just happened for me.  It’s been for everybody.

Where else could we locate such intense an ecstasy except back in this Church (wherever it is), in a posture of adoration.  Our Christianity has been renewed.

However many centuries it took, the collective genius of the Easter Liturgy helps to bind and deepen us as community, as church, as Christians.

There are other Christian practices, other core faith festivals – sharing those in this blog would be welcome.

Ecstatic Experience

Easter is not the only source of ecstatic feeling.  Sexual sharing, holding one’s healthy newborn, the expanding of the heart when a child extends her/his usual limits: these are memorable feelings where a rush of joy lifts us.

So the joy of the Risen Christ has beautiful echoes in ongoing life.  But our culture has created Easter to bathe and nurture our spirits.


Not This Year

This year I won’t be joining in the great feast.  In 1974, an Easter spent in Jamaica, New York, at an Orthodox seminary with my cousin and his fellow seminarians, brought me to experience a conversion to active Christianity.  Christ reached out and captured me, thoroughly. For the next 36 years Easter was a period that friends and family had to work around if they wanted my company.  Few were ever participants (except for my daughter until she chose at 14 to discontinue that path).  It was always a pleasure to share the happy release after the 47 days of preparation, and we provided food and good cheer in our home.

It won’t happen in 2011.

If I’m choosing to critically view the Church in the forms in which I’ve met it, there’s no integrity to dipping in for the Glory bits.  I will stay away this time.  Maybe buy a lily.  And read the scripture story.


But while I’m sad about giving up so much beauty, I feel the Spirit of God here in this non-hallowed space.  My heart lifts up to the open sky.  The earth is humming with new life stirring, hidden in the dark earth.

Somehow, here on Wednesday of Holy Week, it’s all right


Good Friday Post Script

As Good Friday closes into deep night my heart lifts and somehow flies out to Calvary.  Jesus on the cross.  So familiar.  The imagery is impressed not only in my mind but in my being.  That sacrificial love, somehow required at the end of the path he walked, ensures that the message of the supremacy of love endures. It is central to my understanding of what really matters and won’t be left behind, however far I move from Church.  Good Friday has happened.  I suspect so will Easter.  Christ, and love beyond telling, will persist in rising.

Happy Easter to all.


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