(From Easter Sunrise 2020)
What are we supposed to do with this Easter story this year? What are we supposed to do with this story of God’s salvation of the world while we’re in the middle of a pandemic? What are we supposed to do?
If I were you, at sunrise on Easter morning. Hell, at sunrise of every morning, I would spend my morning pretending I’m one of those early Christians in the first few centuries who woke up on Easter, about to be baptized.
I would wake up hungry, as those new Christians did, having fasted and prayed for most of the last 40 days.
I would step outside my front door or back door for a minute, as those new Christians stood outside the church on Easter morning, and I would face west.
I’d face the shadows of the night and, just as those new Christians were instructed to do on their baptism day, I would picture the devil. I’d picture all evil. I’d picture sickness and disease, temptation and torture. I’d picture sin and death. And then, just as those new Christians were instructed to do, I’d spit in the devil’s direction. I’d spit right in the eye of all that is evil in this world.
Then, if I were you, I’d turn around, as those new Christians were instructed to do, and I’d face east. I’d face the rising sun and, turning my back on sin and death, I would face Christ and pledge to him my allegiance:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,Apostles’ Creed, 3rd century
Creator of heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into Heaven
and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty.
From thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body
and the life everlasting.
Then, if I were you, just like those new Christians were instructed to do, I would get naked. I would get naked and get ready to get wet. As those new Christians would enter the baptistery, so I would enter my bathroom, and turn on the shower. And as they were plunged or flooded with the waters of baptism I would stand under the shower and remember my own baptism. I would let the water wash my face, and accept it as a Amazing Grace, and remember that in a world of sin and death, I’ve been covered by something else.
Then, if I were you, just like those early Christians were instructed, I would put on my Easter Best. For them it was a long white gown, for me it might just be a bathrobe, or a bow tie, or seersucker, or my gardening clothes, or this year maybe it’s a mask. But as I put them on, I would remember the words of scripture: “You have put on Christ. In Christ you have been baptized. Put on the full armor of God, and know that nothing formed against you shall stand.”
Then, if I were you, Just as those new Christians were instructed to do, I would feast. No, not on communion bread and wine like those new Christians. Maybe instead I’d eat the chocolate or meat I gave up for Lent, or maybe I’d pop a bottle and have a mimosa. Maybe it’d be fresh ground coffee, or my favorite, a bacon egg and cheese biscuit. Regardless, if I were you, I would feast. I wouldn’t count calories and I would go back for seconds. And I would give thanks that Christ is the source of all good things and as he is present in bread and wine, so he has filled all of creation so that, in him, we are called to a feast.
And then, after the shower, and the clothes, and the feast, if I were you, I would find someone to talk to. Someone in my home, someone on the phone, or FaceTime, or zoom. Just like those new Christians were instructed, I’d find a way to enjoy the fellowship of the saints. The friendship of Christians. The unity accomplished in Christ. I’d get a live body in front of me physically or electronically and I would offer them the Easter Greeting: “Christ is risen.”
And then they might reply: “The Lord is Risen indeed.”
And then together we would praise God three times, once for each person of the trinity, saying, “Allelulia, Alleluia, Alleluia”
If I were you, that’s what I might do.
Or I might not. Who knows?
Guess what: it doesn’t matter. Whether or not I or you do any of that stuff, whether we spit at the devil or kiss him on the mouth, whether we enunciate the creed or just mumble along, whether we are showered and clothed or naked and dirty, feasting or fasting, housed or homeless, alone or together, faithful or faithless, that doesn’t change the story. It doesn’t change God. And it doesn’t change the Gospel about what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.
Regardless of what you have done, can do, or will do today or tomorrow, hear the Good News: Christ is Risen. The Lord is Risen indeed. Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia!
But, let this be a reminder, that part of the Good News about Easter is that your ordinary life, your ordinary body, your ordinary shower, your ordinary breakfast, your ordinary relationships, even and especially in these extraordinary times, they are all moments in which the Risen Christ of Easter, and the Joy that he brings, can arise again to greet you, and dry your tears, and give you peace.
This day, and everyday, may this Joy find its way to you.