On Easter Monday, I tweeted this:
Thank the Lord, we are resurrection people!!
— Nathan Bledsoe (@RevNayte) March 28, 2016
I’ve also continued to wish people Happy Easter, not only because I’m a fan of the liturgical calendar which says that we’re in the midst of the Easter season (it STARTS Easter Sunday, it doesn’t end there), but because there’s a tendency in our faith to spend precious little time in the midst of resurrection.
The world we live in tells us a story of pain and sadness, grief and loss. This story ends on a Friday, and it doesn’t end well. It ends with the God of the universe strung up on a tree, killed for insisting upon love in a world that insists upon almost anything else. So here’s the thing that bothers me:
I feel like the church lets the story that the world likes to tell be the story we tell, too.
We obsess ourselves with the tragedy of the cross. We preach about it. We teach about it. We talk about it, think about it, and pray about it.
And we should, because to be loved by a God so committed to us that God’s own self was subjected to torture, pain, and execution is worthy of contemplation.
But I don’t go to church on Sundays because of the cross.
To obsess ourselves with death and the cross denies the Good News, the Gospel, the fact that our faith doesn’t end with death on a tree.
Because the climax of the Christian faith is that in the face of death, God told a new story.
Yes, your pain is real, God said. Yes, insisting on love and life in a world interested in very different things will lead to death, God said. But then God said something else, too.
Death can’t stop life, God said.
I go to church on Sundays because of the empty grave.
I follow a God who became fully human, lived a life entirely of service, love, and healing, and got killed for it.
But, even if that’s the part we remember to talk about, it’s not the part that makes us whole. Because the empty grave sets us free.
Because life in Christ doesn’t mean skipping the part of the story that is painful, difficult, and deadly. It’s knowing that the cross is not the climax.
Thank the Lord, we are resurrection people!