MattAndJojang's Blog

God. Life. Spirituality.

Behind Every Easter Is a Crucifixion

with 4 comments

Easter

The trees on both sides of my street in New York City have bloomed with tiny white flowers that create a canopy under which I walked on this fine Easter weekend. The trees do this every year in spring, and I wait for it, knowing that the cold, grey branches only appear to be dead and lifeless; and that the flowers are waiting for the right moment for revelation.

The white blossoms are a sign for me that new life is coming, that spring will not be thwarted, that Easter has come.

Those of us who are Christian celebrate Easter with joyful and victorious choruses of Hallelujah because Christ rose from the dead and triumphed over the grave. “Where is your sting o death?” I sing at the Easter vigil where we light the Christ candle to shine within the darkness. Easter is a glorious celebration of new life, new beginnings, new hope.

However, Easter is not, must not, be a time of amnesia. We do not, cannot, forget the journey of Jesus when we sing the Hallelujah chorus. Easter, if it is to mean anything, must always stands face to face with the crucifixion of Good Friday — because God knows the crucifixions did not stop when Jesus’ resurrection happened. And God knows that suffering and oppression will not stop in 2014, just because Christians will be celebrating Easter.

I was reminded of this when my partner told me that the white flowers signify to him the anniversary of the death of his first partner who died of AIDS around this time in 1989; just blocks from where we so comfortably now live together as a married couple. For Brad, just because Easter happened in 1989, and is happening again this year, doesn’t mean his heart did not break. Easter did not, cannot, erase the fact of devastating loss Brad experienced, and the grief that accompanied it.

Easter does not erase crucifixions of oppression and personal trials that humans face. It does not have that power, nor that goal.

Easter also does not erase the crucifixion of hunger, fear, war, violence that too many will know today. Easter does not erase the crucifying greed, sexism, racism, domestic abuse, or homo and trans hatred that so many will experience today. Easter does not erase the cross of gun violence, destruction of the environment, the distrust between religious traditions, the unjust prison system, the monied corruption of political systems that plague our country and the world. Easter does not erase the agony of physical disease, Alzheimer’s, loneliness, depression, addiction, despair, heartbreak that are part of many of our daily lives.

Easter does not erase any of it — instead it shines a spotlight on those crucifixions and proclaims that the power of death and sin can and has been shattered by the power of love.

Easter only matters because it is the story of God taking the form of a human in Jesus who experienced the crucifixion, dying for and with us, and then rising to proclaim that death and destruction are not the end of the story of life. Easter matters because it reminds us that God is with us, and loves us, even amidst all of our sufferings. Easter matters because it proclaims a faith that even in 2014, God is pouring forth the powerful spirit of new life to resurrect our personal lives and our world.

Easter is a call upon the Christian to turn to face the crucifixions in our lives and in the world; encouraged and emboldened by Christ, to believe that we too can rise.

May we be blessed and bless others with new life this Easter Sunday.

— Paul Brandeis Raushenbush

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Written by MattAndJojang

April 21, 2014 at 1:19 pm

4 Responses

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  1. This is a fine post, filled with truth. On the other hand – we need not feel guilty, ambivalent or insensitive if on Easter we do set aside Good Friday and the cross. They will appear again, soon enough. But the ability to trust in the resurrection sufficiently to celebrate with unalloyed joy also is a gift of faith.

    A blessed Easter season to you and Jojang!

    shoreacres

    April 21, 2014 at 8:07 pm

  2. I agree, Linda, Easter is a time of hope and joy. Although it is true that behind every Easter is a crucifixion, or, to put it in another way: there is no resurrection without crucifixion, now is the time to set aside Good Friday and the cross. It’s time to celebrate and allow the joy of Christ to fill our hearts.

    In the words of Pope John Paul II:

    Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are an Easter people and hallelujah is our song.

    A Blessed Easter season to you, too, Linda!

    — Matt

    MattAndJojang

    April 22, 2014 at 9:38 am

  3. Hi Matt,

    A great post that’s close to my heart.

    Here’s a poem that seems to be apt.

    “Saturday”

    Friday’s here and Maundy’s gone
    The day is cold but some warmth from sun
    A day without work but it doesn’t feel free
    As ‘put to death’ clouds all that I see.

    Emptied of all – how low can you get
    A fish from sea now caught in the net
    With no hope of return to the watery feel
    Just visceral cuts of the fisherman’s steel

    Many look on to Sunday’s news
    Chocolate, eggs, carols and pews
    Better to pause to stare at the blood
    Even if it results in a flood.

    Perhaps to Saturday we all should look
    And a few minutes silence without a good book.
    Prepare to be emptied of all that is me
    The creator then shows us just what we can be

    God Bless you loads

    Senan

    Senan

    April 23, 2014 at 1:00 am

  4. Thank you, Senan, for sharing your poem to us. Simply beautiful!

    Not only is it apt to the post but it also spoke to me personally. The crucifixion is indeed a message of self-emptying and dying to our egoistic and self-centered desires. But that is only half of the story. If the Christian message ended in the crucifixion, then it would be a very negative and gloomy religion. But the other half of the story is that the dying is followed by the rising of the resurrection. After the crucifixion is the resurrection! We are called to die to our selfishness so that we may live life to the full – really experience the joy of the resurrection! As the last lines of the poem puts it:

    Prepare to be emptied of all that is me
    The creator then shows us just what we can be

    — Matt

    MattAndJojang

    April 23, 2014 at 9:08 am


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