Despite the candy, the egg hunts, and the Easter Bunny; despite the overlap of Christianity with a Roman pagan holiday and its eventual wedding to Empire; despite all of this, the roots of Easter are in remembering and telling the story of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Thus the traditional greeting is, "He is risen!" to which one responds, "He is risen indeed!"
In addition to remembrance, there is also anticipation. The resurrection of Jesus was viewed from the earliest days of Christian faith through the lens of the restoration of the entire world. The apex of this restoration was the final abolishment of death, perhaps rendered most poignantly through an improvisation on the writings of the Hebrew prophet Isaiah:
"Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?"
Therefore, beyond even remembrance and anticipation, there is a present call to action. Behind the anticipation of death's eventual impotence is the faint echo of the most frequent command in the Bible - do not be afraid.
If death is defeated, we are free to live in the risky ways of Jesus that will put us in conflict with the ruling powers - proclaiming good news to the poor, proclaiming liberty to the captives, recovering sight to the blind, setting at liberty those who are oppressed, and proclaiming the year of the Lord's favor. Thus the resurrection as a promise of the full restoration of the world is more immediately an invitation to join the present work of reconciliation. The hope of the resurrection is part and parcel with the hope that what we do can and will in fact make a difference. That is why we remind ourselves, he is risen indeed.
So what does this have to do with the poem in my last post? It's about the hope of the resurrection, in all of those dimensions mentioned above, but this time through the lens of grief. More than the hope of the resurrection focusing on seeing loved ones lost again someday, for me there is the day to day battle against being paralyzed by grief.
I lost my grandfather last spring, and the grief and regret have come close to being paralyzing at times. As I mentioned in the last post, that poem was not written specifically for my grandfather, but for dear friends who lost a baby to a miscarriage this past winter. It was the last in a series of devastating losses in my community, and it cut deeply. That poem was my response to the grief, and in the end, it was about my grandfather too, because it is about the hope of the resurrection.
And what a hope it is.