There is nothing new about Easter for me to write, except my own testimony on this day of my life, so here that is:
The Episcopal liturgy taught me a lot through childhood. Christmas, Easter, Pentecost — these three were anchors for the year.
Christmas speaks of compassion and all the mystery of living. Incarnation was the work of most of Jesus’ life, I have come to see (and I keep understanding it a little more, in most every day of my own living) — divinity and flesh all a blend: birth, circumcision and the reception into a tradition; the mystery of generations (Anna and Simeon), self-discovery within the cradle of institutions; quests and questions, baptized by prophetic John, driven out (by the Spirit, what was that like?) into the fruitful desert, and then back again. Reconstructing community, finding a voice when John is silenced by the authorities; conflict, service, teaching, debate, rejection, Gethsemane, and the cross. God saturates the whole, who knows how, sometimes clear, sometimes hidden, playing peekaboo. Every day is the adverb.
Easter is challenge; always is the adverb, the through-note within the dappled light-dark world. Freedom, or rather liberation — a burst of gold and white, on the midnight at the end of purple Lent, after Passion-week, dark Friday and breathless Saturday. It connected so many threads: the blood of the paschal lamb (belonging and mercy!), the passage where? Into everyday wandering in the wilderness of this world; and in that dailyness the ever, the pearl of great price. Behold the Lamb of God! said John, seeing John, John the seer, seeing the Lamb whose victory comes in sacrifice, who “takes its kingdom with entreaty, and not with contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind.
And ever we are accompanied; the teacher is near, a shepherd lord for sheepish apprentices, while we learn our own lessons of incarnation: the holy body, the holy self, the holy fellowship; boundaries, regrets, choices and forgiveness, celebration and loss, the truths of work and rest, speech and silence; the mysteries of the mystical body.
I think we don’t hear so much, in our debased cultural scuffles, of a “war on Easter,” because Easter can seem to mean that the troublesome teacher has been kicked upstairs, become a Superintendent, Rhadamanthus at the gates of passage out of Now (and real) into Then (let’s not think of it, but that’s where the Ideal can be lived, after it won’t interfere with earth-work). Resurrection is made an end-point, after incarnation, after the day’s work is done for good or ill…safe.
But the death Jesus raised people from was mostly soul-death, the sleep of fear or busyness or ease: “Let the dead bury the dead! You have only to rise up and follow.” And so I do, sometimes, or long to (Help thou my unbelief!), and the open tomb is the open door for anyone to walk through, growing into the first resurrection, as one of those “saints” (clay vessels) in whom He is come again: ” If I cannot witness Christ nearer than Jerusalem, I shall have no benefit by him.” Someone who says that (as Nayler did, and I do in my measure) can dare to do so because they know already the taste of resurrection and eternal holy life, now, now, Christ at large in the world. “Yea, he is truly risen.”
And now! is the adverb for Easter’s binary twin star, Pentecost, the feast of red fire and of koinonia, of apostleship and service to the least, of the race to be the last, of pilgrimage funded by the one thing needful.
Dwell in the power of life and wisdom, and dread of the Lord of life, and of heaven and earth…Let all nations hear the sound in word or by writing. Spare no place, spare no tongue nor pen; but be obedient…Go through the work and be valiant for the truth upon the earth.. You have the power, do not abuse it. You have the strength, presence, and wisdom of the Lord Eye it, that with it you may all be ordered to the glory of the Lord God…Keep in the dominion, keep in the power over deceit… The spirit bids, come!