The power of Easter: Now more than ever

April 9th, 2020

In his book Longing for Enough in a Culture of More (Abingdon Press, 2007) my friend Paul Escamilla quotes a comment made by author E. B. White about his wife. It was the autumn before her death and he observed her out in the garden busily burying bulbs in the black earth “under those dark skies in the dying October, calmly plotting the resurrection.”

That is an image powerful enough to remember for a lifetime: this remarkable woman, entering the final season of her own life, but totally convinced that an “eternal spring” will surely arrive for both her tulips and herself.

The secular critique of the Christian belief in resurrection is that it is “pie in the sky,” that it ignores reality, and that it glosses over the darkness and tragedy of life. In fact, the biblical accounts do just the opposite. That is why we observe “Good Friday” as the darkest day in history, why we drape the cross, and why we read out loud about the cowardice of the disciples, the betrayal of Judas and the unbelief of nearly every single follower who saw or heard about the empty tomb.

The Easter message is not about a God who saves us from pain and darkness, but about a God who is plotting victory in the midst of defeat, who is planting seeds in the darkness of winter and who is preparing a Technicolor palette for the painting of the blackest canvas.

This year might be the most important Easter of my lifetime or yours. For the first time ever it will not be celebrated in the midst of crowded pews or in view of spectacular faceted glass windows. We will hear the music from electronic speakers rather than reverberating through our sanctuary.

There will not be the aroma of lilies, or the hugs of cherished friends with whom we share worship. The grandeur of Easter worship and the sound of glorious music inside a beloved sanctuary cannot be fully captured on a computer screen. And yet, let us make sure that our proclamation will not be muted, our joy will not be shortchanged. The church does its best work standing in the middle of the cemetery and proclaiming life over death. This year, more than ever, the story of a resurrected Christ has life-giving power.

This post was adapted from Don's book The Long View (Abingdon Press, 2013).

comments powered by Disqus