cross sunset

For millions around the world this week marks the apex of the Christian calendar. This Sunday is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, also known as Easter. In many circles there is much contention about the association that Easter may have with pagan celebrations or the Jewish holiday of Passover;, however, the Council of Nicaea settled the formula for determining the date of Easter in 325AD and completely Christianized the celebration, centering it in the Jesus narrative (Davidson 2005).

The story of the resurrection is central to the Christian faith and holds powerful imagery of possibility and potential. It is an invitation to radical newness and boundless hope that resonates with our shared human drive toward generativity. It beckons us to take seriously the mystery of life and the ways in which our lives are transitory. Resurrection is a consolation to Christians of the shared affirmation that death is not the end. Yet this radical newness comes at an expense; for with every resurrection there is a preceding death. This resurrection narrative speaks to us of a new embodiment; a new way of being human in the world.

The resurrection of Jesus is no exception; it is as expensive as it is glorious. The crucifixion of Jesus, commemorated this Friday and known as( Good Friday), is a horrific scene of epic proportions. It is described as that moment so disturbing that the sun refused to shine and God turned God’s self away so as not to behold the tragedy of the moment. The message and paradox of the cross and resurrection ground us in “deep time” – which encompasses all time, past and future, geological and cosmological, and not just our little time or culture. The deep time connection somehow orients the psyche, gives perspective, realigns us, and grounds us in a narrative of triumph over tragedy (Rohr 2011).

What unites the tragedy of the cross with the triumph of the resurrection is an inversion of the world’s value system; that is, with the news that hope comes by way of defeat, and suffering and death do not have the last word. The cross calls out our desire for justice— and the empty grave fulfills the requirement. The occupied execution tree and the empty tomb work together to show that even in the face of the worst of humanity’s worst behavior, there is always an unquenchable ontological thirst for life that refuses to let the worst determine our final meaning (Cone 2011).

Life is a series of expanding frontiers. Every crossing is something of a death and resurrection (Spong 1993). A new way of being in the world requires a no to what was and a yes to the possibilities of what can be. In our current sociopolitical moment this sacred dance between the occupied cross and the empty tomb—which sees Jesus falsely imprisoned, undergo a sham of a trial, get convicted and sentenced to execution by torture,— exhibits the power of the resurrection with more potency than ever. Surely it is insanity in the face of massive evil and global destruction that we miss the opportunity to lift the hope of resurrection. As an American I am profoundly aware that of the American prison industrial complex holds the largest incarcerated population percentage of citizens in the free world and I ask myself and my faith community if we are holding hope this Easter for the resurrection of those we have labeled convicts? Is it possible that this Easter celebration we might take the bombings happening around the world, whether at the hands of citizens or governments, as an invitation to seek for new ways of being human in the world?

Peace Is Possible,

Bishop Edward Donalson, III | Director of Liturgy and Worship | Assistant Clinical Professor

Works Cited
Cone, James. 2011. The Cross and The Lynching Tree. Maryknoll: Orbis.
Davidson, Ivor J. 2005. A Public Faith: From Constatine to the Medevil World. Grand Rapids: BakerBooks .
Rohr, Richard. 2011. Falling Upward. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
Spong, John Shelby. 1993. This Hebrew Lord. New York: HarperOne.

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