The biggest prank is that Jesus rose again from the dead, at least that is one of my core convictions (his resurrection, not that it was a prank). The internet is full of Easter-related discussion; that’s good to talk about as the Jahresuhr (the year) turns ’round and we reflect on it and reset. I am deeply thankful for the opportunity to visit church with a friend in a place far from my home – I guess that seems to be my new tradition on Easter.
“We have too many Christians who have Lent without Easter,” the pastor quoted (or something close to that, supposedly from the Pope). To those unaware the “season of Lent” is a time of fasting and reflection leading up to Easter, the day we celebrate that Jesus came back to life after being dead in a tomb for three days and thus sealing in the hope we place in him. “We are Easter people,” he continues, “and alleluia is our song.”
So I come into this church and reflect on God and his nature and pray out the liturgy with the congregation: “I reject evil…I renounce the sin in me…help me, O God, to be your servant of peace.” I reflect on the consistent ways I fail, the things I never grow through, the temptations to which I repeatedly return. And I know God sees me. I proclaim his goodness and say “God is great!” yet while I struggle inside to love the very creation he made in me. And here was this man, this divine man who came and empathized and conquered where I have fallen short and I realize that on this April 1 I am the fool. God knows the very thin line separating the innermost from the outside and he sees what lies behind it.
So as we direct ourselves to think on Ash Wednesday to consider that we are dust and so as we focus during Lent to refrain from worldly distractions then so do we celebrate on Easter that God saw our disgrace and he loved us anyway; he saw our repeated, infantile, willful, and horrifying failures and took us in anyway; he saw the fool in me and he lifted me up anyway.
In all my running to seek affection and to seek being wanted, when I’m tired, hungry, angry, or sick, in my trained misbehaviors, and when I’m foolish I can be reminded to celebrate, because the very God who conquered death – death in the body and death in the soul – didn’t flush me out with it. He saw strength hiding behind my weakness and beauty behind my tears, he saw victory charging through my retreat and he saw Jesus when he looked at me. God I reject evil and defeat, please lead me away from it.
My friend, I have seen many things, been on many adventures, suffered excruciating loss, faced my own malice and insufficiency, and from the best of times to the worst of time I can say that I am alive because someone saw the fool in me through it all and decided it was worth saving. There is no greater story in my life than that quintessential act of kindness. Today I celebrate the freedom I have from that fool because of that act. Today I celebrate that the things that I have messed up in this world have hope because of that act. Today I celebrate, and I hope you do too.