Thursday, April 9, 2009

He is not here, He has risen.

It's Easter once again. I've always wondered why Easter is not celebrated like Christmas is in the U.S. You'd think a holiday at the advent of spring would be more natural than one in the dead of winter. On deeper reflection, I've decided that Easter is simply too "Christian" to be widely celebrated outside of religious circles. Let me explain. 

There are many people who believe that, if Jesus actually existed, he was merely a Gandhi-like figure who founded a Jewish sect in the first century A.D. They have no problem with this "historical Jesus" being born in Bethlehem. They have no problem with His birth in a stable, or the shepherds and the wise men. The angel choir? Well, that can be smoothed over. But Easter is a different story. Within three days, we go from Good Friday on which Christ was crucified, to Ressurection Sunday upon which he did what no man has ever done: He raised from the dead. He took our sins with him to the grave, and left them there. This is deeply uncomfortable to secular people. Man can't rise from the dead, they say. They are technically correct. Man can't rise from the dead. But when a man is God and Man in one, it is no problem at all. Easter, not Christmas, is the crux of the Christian story, and it is Easter that has been shunned by secular America. Even the efforts to make Easter another commercial holiday have been sporadic and pitiful. The Easter Bunny really has nothing on good ol' Saint Nick. 

But the world is free to celebrate when they wish. Christians, however, will celebrate the anniversary of the ultimate sacrifice, the climax of Dei Incarnatione, that washed our sins away. Happy Easter! 

The little stream sings
in the crease of the hill. 
It is the water of life. It knows
nothing of death, nothing. 
And this is the morning 
of Christ's ressurection. 
The tomb is empty. There is 
no death. Death is our illusion, 
our wish to belong only
to ourselves, which is our freedom
to kill one another. 
From this sleep may we too 
rise, as out of the dark grave.

--Wendell Berry