Easter…

Easter week is upon us and everyone seems on their best behavior.  What a  pleasant time.  Funny how certain religious holidays bring out the best in people only to be quickly forgotten once the season has passed.

Easter has always puzzled me.  To steal a line, it is the worst of times, it is the best of times all rolled into one event.  Everything from gore porn reenactments of the crucifixion by wanna be actors to kids looking for easter eggs dressed in their innocent finest.  Easter seems a paradox.  Men can finally wear light colored clothes hidden in the back of their closets through winter and woman feel compelled to wear gaudy hats which block the view from at least two rows behind the wearer.  The ladies hats more resemble an afternoon at the Kentucky Derby than church but that’s tradition for you.

And then there’s the message.  At one time some well meaning preacher found himself hip deep in a Grey’s Anatomy text book and decided to fully comprehend how a crucifixion destroys a body.  From this one investigation, preachers have been detailing the most horrendous display of man’s cruelty upon another for decades.  Parishioners are spellbound as the storyteller portrays the step by step agony of this torture, right down to the tearing flesh and spikes splitting tendons to nail a helpless victim to the cross.

Never has this description of the death of Jesus made complete sense to me.  I accept with immense gratitude the sacrifice made on my behalf.  There is no question this was a horrible manifestation of cruelty freely enacted on one so undeserving.  All of this I understand.  The question that arrises is not the removal of the message but the elimination of the grotesque depiction used to guilt people into acting more passionate about their faith for the moment.

My desire is that the focus of Easter could be the message of hope offered through the life of Jesus and the promise of a better tomorrow would be more than enough to change lives.  It’s certainly been enough for me.  No amount of blood splattering or comprehension of how the cat-o-nine tails decimates the flesh will make me walk in deeper passion for the message of Jesus.  Yet, for too long and in too many places Easter services become akin to christianized slasher movies freaking out the masses and leaving worshippers with so much guilt and no means to assuage it.  This is reprehensible and must stop.  As a former children and youth minister, I promise these images don’t just wear off, instead they leave children traumatized and fearful.  Scared, scarred and confused is a horrible life for a child.

Easter is about the Sunrise, the promise that a new day dawns when old old has passed.  Easter is about renewed opportunity to live life to the fullest and seek new opportunities to love and embrace our fellow man.  Easter is about availing ourselves to reconciliation with forgiveness and grace extended to those we hurt or excluded.  Easter  is waking up knowing today I’ve got another chance to make a difference, to do something meaningful in the life of another.  Easter means we don’t have to accept our lives as they are and each day we can change if we so desire.  One doesn’t enter into love from fear, only from love does one come in.

Easter is joy presented in the life, message, and desire given freely by this man Jesus.  That’s what I’m after.  That’s enough of a message to change the world.

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