Posted by: smstrouse | April 6, 2012

Easter: the Big So What?

There is a shift underway within Christianity, and it is nowhere more evident than on Easter.  “Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!” we will shout out on Sunday.  But the question of the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus is one that is once again being considered.  The first time was back in the earliest days, when the followers of Rabbi Jesus obviously experienced some kind of living presence after the crucifixion.  The gospels and writings of Paul reflect differing explanations. However, thanks to St. Augustine’s interpretation of Paul, the doctrine of ‘original sin’ has formed our understanding of the saving work of Jesus: Jesus ‘died for our sins’ and Easter is the triumph of God over our wickedness.

Today, with the shift towards reclaiming awareness of our ‘original blessing,’  there is no longer the need for anyone to die for anyone’s sins.  God does not require a sacrifice.  Satan does not demand a ransom.  There is no need for a substitution for a depraved humanity.  Then why did Jesus die?  Simple: because the Romans (with the collaboration of the religious authorities) killed him.   But, but, but . . . if Jesus didn’t die for my sins, then what was the point?  Even if somehow God raised him back up, so what?  What does that mean for me?

Good question: one that 21st century Christianity must answer.  We also must become more aware of how the former explanations of ‘redemptive violence’ pervade our liturgies, hymns, prayers, devotional materials, children’s messages, etc.

Then Easter: so what?

So – even though Jesus was killed, God raised up new life out of death. How this happened is an unfathomable mystery (quantum physics may provide better insights into the resurrection, although that’s just as big a mystery to me).  What is more important than how is why.  Why? Because that’s what God does.  The Divine, the Universe, the Ground of Our Being, whatever name we use, creates life, creates possibilities, lures us into paths of healing and wholeness, goodness and creativity, justice and peace.

As John Shelby Spong wrote in his beautiful poem Christpower:*
And even when the darkness of death overwhelmed him,
the power of life resurrected him;
for Christpower is life
eternal,
without beginning,
without ending.
It is the secret of creation.
It is the goal of humanity.

Easter is the premier day of our loud and assured “Yes!” to the force of life and love that  brings resurrection power – Christpower – into our own lives and into our hurting world.  So sing it out loud:  Christ is risen!  Christ is risen indeed!  Alleluia!!!

*Saint Johann Press (August 10, 2007)

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