I have known many Easters.
I remember one Easter morning as a child realizing Jesus quite literally loved us to death. I was overwhelmed by the enormity of such love. Later that same day, I looked up at a depiction of Noah’s Ark and thought that this Jesus of love sounded much better than the God that destroyed the world with the great flood. The conclusion was simple for me. I loved Jesus and Jesus loved me.
The more Easters I experienced the more complex Jesus became for me. The preacher kept talking about a God who saved us from our sins. I couldn’t figure out if I was saved or not. The truth of the matter was that I got saved hundreds if not thousands of times. I was terrified and desperate to know Jesus.
As the high school Easters turned to college Easters, I decided the only way to deal with my doubt was to become certain. I subscribed to a theology that blessed my desire to be wealthy and not care too much about the needs of others…a fundamentalist brand of Calvinism. I believed that if someone was not blessed or saved then God obviously didn’t choose them for blessings or salvation. Similar theologies allowed the racist keepers of apartheid in South Africa to describe themselves as Christians. I decided to go to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to learn how to teach others such a theology. Throughout this time, I had my doubts.
The event that changed my life was my mentor coming out to me on his death bed. That was the moment I met Jesus in someone who truly represented the least of these and realized I could return to the Jesus of my childhood…that Jesus that loved me and taught me how to love others. It was a resurrection moment. Since that time, I have opened my mind and heart to a wide diversity of people and places…and the resurrections haven’t stopped.
The wideness and vastness of God’s love is where resurrection magically and mysteriously happens. I am not afraid of resurrection. I don’t have to explain it. I just simply push into it. I believe that love never dies…I believe that love can conquers death…I believe that love changes hearts…and I believe that love can set us free. We must experience a revolution of the mind and heart that allows us to push into love past our borders and boundaries…past our stones.
In the resurrection, we find a love that saves us from death. If we want to talk about salvation…then let’s talk about a God that dies so that all might learn to live and teaches us to do the same. Everybody wants to talk about eternal life…but no one wants to talk about the call to give our lives so that others might live. I don’t give a shit if you can pray the right prayers, recite the clearest doctrines or stay within the boundaries of the most precise dogmas…I care whether you are connected to the love a resurrected God who declares what you have done to the least of these you have done to me. It seems like many people are sitting outside the tomb of Jesus…which is often our churches…and wondering where the resurrected God is. Unfortunately, most have forgotten where to look.
We race to church past Jesus sleeping under the overpasses in the dirt.
We read books and miss the lesbian Jesus knocking on the doors with a desire to get married in our churches.
We pray for a word from God when Jesus is standing there with a word that says “Will Work For Food” every morning.
We fight over doctrine and dogma as Jesus dies of aids down the street.
We sing our songs as Jesus sells drugs to make a living a few abandoned buildings down.
We keep programming and Jesus is down at the bar getting drunk to forget his problems.
We recite verses and and miss the Jesus having sex for some money to eat.
We have so many quiet times that they have caused us to remain quiet about the injustices that Jesus faces all over the world.
If you believe in a God that allows you to ignore the oppressed incarnated God down the street then I respond with the words of Mary: You have taken my Lord and I don’t know where you have laid him.
You cannot preach about a sweet by and by and ignore the resurrected Jesus in your midst. This is the message of Easter. This is the message of love.
Do we believe in resurrection or not?
Jesus is all around us calling us to the resurrection in the least…and if we will stop worrying and fretting about our life and souls long enough…we just might get a chance to meet her.