The Easter story is more challenging than the tales of fluffy bunnies. “I think that the challenge of Easter is, is you don’t understand the power of the resurrection if you don’t really take in the horror of the cross,” said the Rev. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary. As violence and cruelty dominate our culture, we must stare violence in the face before we can find the good news. Jones said, “I mean, the good news is, that the love of God just keeps coming.”
Susan Sparks: The story of Easter is the story of the life of Jesus who lived 2,000 years ago and walked this earth, as many Christians believe, as the son of God. He called his disciples to spread the message of love and compassion and mercy. And yet was so threatening to the leaders of the government and to the church or to the temple that he was in fact arrested and crucified, which is a horrible death that was offered by the Romans at that point in time, when you were nailed to a cross.
Yet in Jesus’ story, after three days, Mary went to the tomb to find him and found this massive stone in front of the tomb rolled away. An angel appears and says, “Do not weep, for he has risen.” And all of a sudden, a man appears in the tomb. And Mary says, you know, “Where have they taken my Lord?” And Jesus says, “Do you not recognize me?” And all of the sudden, she realizes it’s the risen Christ.
Serene Jones: In the familiarity of that moment, she knows it’s him. It’s the affection and the particular identity that’s held in our names that when God calls to us, we know it’s God. And in that moment, the resurrection happens. In that moment, for the first time in the Gospel of John, Jesus, the resurrected one appears in the fullness of his glory to this traumatized, frightened but brave and determined woman. And this Christian story begins.
I think that the challenge of Easter is, is you don’t understand the power of the resurrection if you don’t really take in the horror of the cross. And we live in wretched times with respect to the level of violence and cruelty that dominates our culture. We need to take a hard look at ourselves and stare that violence full in the face before we can even begin to articulate what it means for there to be good news in the midst of it. I mean, the good news is, is that the love of God just keeps coming. Just keeps being poured out on us, it’s poured out upon you and me in the hopes that that love continues to nurture us to be kinder, better, more hopeful people.
Sparks: We look at this world today and I think it’s so easy to get beaten down by what’s going on, all of the violence and the war and the bigotry and the hatred. And sometimes we don’t feel like as one person we can make a difference. But yet the Easter story is all about just one person, one person who had a dream, one person who had a vision, a belief that the world could be different. And with a mere 30 years of life, Jesus took that dream and transformed it into a story, a mission, a gospel that transformed the world today.
And I would encourage all of us as Christian followers to take that story, meditate, sit with it and be inspired by what we can do. By just stepping out into the world, stepping out and taking action, even one little thing so that in our world, things can be changed, and then maybe in the larger world, things will move forward as well.