Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter's over. Now, back to the real world?

I admit that almost ever year the stress of getting ready for Easter services keeps me from "feeling" very Easterly (is that a word?). Yet, almost every year, without fail, gathering with God's people helps me encounter the story of Christ's resurrection anew. I can’t tell you how uplifting it is for me to look out into the congregation and see faces alit as we proclaim to one another, “He is risen! He is risen, indeed!” This year the chorus of praise even extended to my Facebook account as status update after status update lifted praise to our Risen Lord – that is certainly a new twist on the praises of the saints. Of course, by now, those same status updates are back to normal, back to discussing the everyday stuff of our lives. One of my favorite writers, the late Richard John Neuhaus, writes of what often happens to us the week after Holy Week:

We contemplate for a time the meaning of Good Friday [and Easter], and then return to what is called the real world of work and shopping and commuter trains and homes. As we come out of a movie theater and shake our heads to clear our minds of another world where we lived for a time in suspended disbelief, as we reorient ourselves to reality, so we leave our contemplation – we leave the church building, we close the book – where for a time another reality seemed possible, believable, even real. But we tell ourselves, the real world is a world elsewhere. It is the world of deadlines to be met, of appointments to be kept, of taxes to be paid, of children to be educated.”[1]

Maybe paying your taxes this week brought you crashing back to the “real world.” Maybe an argument with your spouse. Maybe the routine of daily life has you shaking your head clear of what Sunday seemed like a possibility, the possibility of new life, but a possibility that now seems far away. What Neuhaus goes on to say, and what I believe the scriptures teach, is that the shaking off of an ill perceived reality is meant to go in the other direction. Christ’s death and resurrection is the event that constantly challenges our conception of where the real world resides, it is the moment that constantly reminds us to reevaluate what we consider to be temporal and what we know to be lasting. Easter calls us, so long as the slumber of this world persists, to keep shaking our heads clear of the deceptions of this world so that we may live alive, awake, and alert in the Kingdom of God’s light.

How does this happen? First, we must keep retelling the story, not just on Easter morning, but everyday of our lives. We must take time in prayer and meditation each day to not only remember the story of Christ’s resurrection, but to experience it anew. Then, we must live as if it’s true. We must embrace our crosses trusting there will be a resurrection. We must hold on to hope in the midst of great storms knowing the power of evil has been undone. We must keep on loving one another believing that love has won and will win the day. We must keep shaking our heads free of the lies of this world that dead things don’t live again and keep declaring to ourselves and one another, “He is risen! He is risen, indeed!”

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things – Colossians 3:1-2 - for a description of earthly things and things above see the rest of the chapter, especially 3:5-17.

[1] Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon (New York: Basic, 2000), 5.


Patrick said...

Good word.

"Easterly" is real, but "means from the east" like an easterly wind.

I think the made-up word you need is "Easter-ish."

Taylor said...

Nice. I almost went with Eastery but I do like Easter-rish.