Easter…ever played the word association game (mustn’t pause, mustn’t hesitate etc etc…)?!? What comes to mind when you think of Easter? Chocolate? Bunnies? Eggs? Spring? Jesus? Death? Resurrection? There are a lot of words we associate with Easter, some of them are fun, light, maybe life-giving…others seem quite dark and eerie and a little bit out of our comfort zone!
We definitely found that at tots(reading the story of Jesus death to a group of under 5’s…hmmmm…bit of a difference to Wibbly Pig at the seaside!!) So why do we find the death thing so hard to talk about…why do we celebrate Good Friday?! What’s it all about…really, what is it all about?
So here’s the thing, I don’t actually know!! You see, I perhaps could of told you what I thought with bit more certainty 20 years ago but the more I think about this God thing the more uncertain I’ve become but I’ve also become more intrigued, more excited, more drawn in and more convinced there’s something to it all than ever.
While I get that there’s many ways to understand Easter I love the underlying message that exists regardless of whether you believe in Easter as a historical event, a spiritual encounter or just a religious story…whatever your understanding of why Jesus died there is a message that underpins it all. The Easter story speaks so clearly about what matters to humanity. It shows us what love looks like…but we can substitute the word love. Easter is what *love* looks like, it’s what *hope* looks like…it’s what mercy, peace, grace, joy, passion, forgiveness, generosity, abundance, friendship, kindness, patience look like, all there wrapped up in the ‘story’ of Easter, a reminder of what it means to be human! A reminder that we live, love and die but also that we rise again…that there is hope, that no loss is too great, no matter how close to “the end” we feel. Easter needs to be celebrated because in celebrating Easter we’re able to embrace the difficult emotions and realities like death, betrayal, revenge, hate, fear, despair…see them for what they are and discover that there is a way to life despite the ‘dark, eerie, out of our comfort zone’ elements of life! Easter is where life is found, life in all its fullness, because it all belongs.
We watched the story of Easter in lego…not quite the Lego Movie but still very clever! It’s quite a story, full of all the emotion that is life and death.
Now I have no idea what your encounter with death is or has been? Maybe you’ve lived through the death of someone close; a person you love. Or mourned the death of a distant relative or a family pet. Maybe you’ve experienced the fear of being diagnosed with something life threatening or been in an accident or had a near death experience. Of course “death” doesn’t have to be the physical loss of someone…maybe you’ve experienced the death of a relationship, or friendship, or job or a dream. Those feelings of despair, loss, fear, hopelessness, loneliness and confusion are just as real. You see death is around us, it is something we encounter as much as we like to not think about it. There are people, things, that are broken, that can’t be fixed…things that we lose and can’t reclaim…all of these encounters have elements of death.
We’re intrigued by death, drawn into something deeper, maybe even spiritual…you see it in the death of celebrities, the connection people feel they had…remember Princess Diana? Death shakes us. Death awakens something in us. Death connects us to something.
Whatever your take on the whole Easter story there is truth that echoes through it…truth that connects us with ourselves, with each other and with God.
Easter invites us to journey through death..the despair of Good Friday…the silence of Easter Saturday where you’re not really sure what happened or what’s going to happen next…into the joy of Easter Sunday, where we find that it does all make sense…that there is always hope and that love always wins!