Sunday, April 24, 2011

Finding Lost Hope: Happy Easter!

In hope, peace and joy we enter the season of Easter. After the forty days of Lent, after the solemnity and sacredness of Holy Week, after Jesus’ horrific death on the cross, finally, finally, we experience the explosive joy of Easter morning.

Easter is about resurrection and transformation. It’s about discovering what we thought lay dead and lost in our lives, and regarding it anew. Easter tells us all futures are possible, no ending is final, and no sorrow everlasting.

It surprises me, given that Jesus made no secret of his coming resurrection, that none of his earliest disciples truly expected him to come back to life. They hid after his death, understandably cowering from the might of the Roman army that had killed their leader.

Only the women, holding to the tradition of anointing the dead, visited Jesus’ tomb early on the third day. And when Mary Magdalene reported Jesus risen, the men still did not believe her. (Some things don't change!) “But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it” (Mark 16:11).

Disbelief and cynicism infect humanity. We undermine our hopes all the time. We tell ourselves that the things we desire are impossible and out of reach. We accept finality, limitations, barriers and obstacles despite the word of God, despite the call of Christ. We fear setting ourselves up for failure and so retreat behind the closed doors of society’s expectations.

Easter teaches us to forget human limitations. It cries out to humanity to abandon all fear, forego all norms and reach for dreams and stars. All is possible with God. Anything can happen. We are reminded of the days before grief and failure weighed us down. We are thrown back to the aspirations of our childhood and fantasies of our youth before the world taught us that we weren’t good enough, couldn’t do it, weren’t worth it.

Because ultimately, on Easter morning, Jesus teaches us that we are worth it and always have been.

We will suffer. That is a given. The wonder of Easter is not that suffering is eliminated for humanity (it isn’t), or that our lives will be obstacle-free. If anything, we are called to address barriers to peace and justice in our lives, and bear the cross of creating a better world. But the cross is not the end. We are also pointed to a future beyond pain, sorrow and fear, a new day of hope and possibility where justice, peace and love can prevail. Faith in God opens us up to faith in ourselves.

This Easter I invite you to embrace your blessings and dream your dreams. Reach for God. Find the Spirit within. Love life and live lovingly. Happy Easter!

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