It is strange to think that churches are closed today and there will be no corporate Easter celebrations. I regret to admit, my husband and I have not been faithful attendees at church for some years. But I cherish memories of Easters past. As a little girl my mother would sew beautiful Easter dresses for me and my sisters for Easter Sunday. As adults we would gather after church at my grandmother’s home. She always had marshmallow Easter eggs for us and Easter Bread.
In my mind Easter is associated with spring flowers, freshly scented Spring air, birds, and robin eggs. I recall the special hymns of the season and my heart is stirred.
Yesterday I wrote a poem. It was Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter.
A Gray Day
An agonizing cry splits the skies,
As he hangs his head and dies.
The sun is darkened
The earth quakes beneath the weight.
The curtain is rent.
Graves yield their dead.
As life is suspended
Between an empty cross
And a sealed tomb.
A sunless day.
Too quickly the bright rays burst,
And birds sing in chorus,
Resurrection songs of morning,
While blood-stained spikes
Lie on the ground,
A remnant of a gray day.
We move so quickly from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Such stark contrasts. I was reminded, yesterday, of what a bleak day Saturday must have been for Christ’s followers. There is not even a hint that they looked forward to a resurrection. Although Jesus told them what would happen to him, they couldn’t grasp it. Saturday was a gray, sunless day indeed.
What gets me about the Easter story is not only that his disciples did not believe, but the fact that it was religious leaders that stirred up the mob to demand that Pilate crucify Christ. Religious leaders. Get that.
It wasn’t the prostitutes and sinners. It wasn’t the atheists. It wasn’t even the political leaders of the day, although they went after the disciples later, and had John the Baptist imprisoned earlier.
People can be cruel. We can be cruel. The other day someone said to me, “Compassion can be cruel.” I thought about that for awhile and decided he was right. In our obsession to defend one cause we can be totally blinded to another need. The religious leaders thought they were defending the faith. Their religion was being threatened. So, the correct thing to do was annihilate the perceived threat. This was completely contrary to the teaching of their faith, to love God and to love others…and not to kill. But they couldn’t handle a little bit of controversy in their midst.
We are told Pilate believed they delivered Christ to be crucified out of envy. That is an interesting thought to ponder. In the book of Proverbs we read, Wrath is cruel…but who can stand before envy…. Jealousy is more dangerous and cruel than anger.
My thinking is that the religious leaders felt they had something to lose and it was probably fairly wrapped up in their pride. As we have heard, Pride goeth before a fall.
My husband and I tried to continue to go to church but after a time we found we simply could no longer “keep up appearances.”
“Please come home,” someone begged us. That is the point. Church no longer feels like home. We no longer feel like we belong there. It shouldn’t be this way. But it is.
So, on this Easter Sunday, we are not alone. Strange thought.
Have you ever asked how this life was meant to be lived? Outside my window birds flit from branch to branch. They peck at the ground. They build nests. They lay eggs. They fly south for the winter. They return. Seems pretty simple.
The coronavirus isolation has made me see how we have complicated life. For some reason the high-rises I see grouped together, casting their long shadows, leaving streets in gloom all day, are halting my attention. I keep looking up at them. I keep thinking about them. I think about the elevators. About how complicated it is to get in and out of them now. It is as though they are symbolic of a bigger problem.
What Easter means to me is that every life is of infinite value. We must save lives. And life is worth living. Sins can be forgiven. We can have new life. And the question remains, How is this life meant to be lived?