the trouble with easter

Meet the 90-year-old Reddit guru. As much as I try to keep up, I confess I hadn’t even heard of Reddit and their Ask Me Anything—AMA—feature.  According to the Washington Post article of the same name linked here, anyone can set up an AMA by sharing who they are or what they’ve accomplished. Then anyone in the world can ask them questions. While most non-celebrities don’t get many questions, this 90-year old received hundreds and hundreds of them within hours of his grandson helping him set it up—apparently in just the right amount of time for a nap.  As it turns out this 90-year old is my brother’s father-in-law, Ron!

The incredible range of questions, along with his thoughtful answers to each and every question—a feat it took him months to accomplish—is worthwhile reading in and of itself.  But what struck me were some of the questions raised by people seeking to gain perspective on our current context as compared to other eras through which Ron lived.  On the one hand, he clearly sees the overall trajectory improving for most people.  On the other hand, he mourns the extreme polarization of our country, a phenomenon he attributes to the poverty and frustration experienced by so many people.

Indeed, we live in an era of unprecedented possibility and yet, rather than make the most of it, we human beings seem to be caught in a vicious cycle of greed, violence, fear, scarcity and paralysis.  The public discourse is disheartening. There are myriad ways our society is fractured:  along racial lines—the very idea of ‘race’ itself being a construct created by slaveholders in this country seeking to drive a wedge between poor people—and through the vast, nearly incomprehensible, economic disparity, to name just a few.   It is hard to imagine how God is bringing good out of so much that is broken and in need of repair.

In the Daily Prayers for All Seasons, the relatively new Episcopal Church resource for prayer throughout each day that I’ve mentioned before, I came across a small but powerful poem entitled, The Trouble with Easter, by Julia McCray-Goldsmith:

But…I want the tomb full, like temple or tent—
with the Holy enshrouded in fabric un-rent.
Yes, I want death preserved in sweet-smelling spice;
not my neighbor perspiring the aroma of Christ. 

Wow. It hit me hard when I first read it.  How often we want the Holy to be contained—safe in the boxes called church we create so carefully—this place, this action, this period of time is sacred. The rest, not so much. Perhaps, as it turns out, that is so we are more free to live the rest of our lives without consideration of the Holy, without being aware that every human being we encounter is Christ himself—including ourselves—and therefore is a sacred encounter with the Holy right in the midst of the ordinary bumpiness of living.We’ve perfected the art of division when the One we follow is drawing all of us to see and claim the perfect Union of all that is that underlies the heart of everything.  For myself, I need to sit with this invitation to see and claim that Jesus is not among the dead but among the living—in each human being I encounter and those I do not—and begin to ponder anew what that means for me this moment, this day, this Holy and precious life I’m living.

At the very least, it is what Ron and his Reddit followers are seeking to do—building bridges of understanding, however precarious, on the threads of curiosity and respect. It is not ours to heal all of creation, but we do have the responsibility to practice reconciliation and communion in our ordinary, everyday lives.  How do we listen, truly listen, to each other, especially those who are different from us, so we may hear the Holy in our midst?

Hope to see you on Sunday,

Elizabeth Jameson