“Risen”

(updated and reposted on Escape from Averageness® every year, on Easter morning)

The intrepid, results-based consultant reclined into the natural seat, at the back edge of one of the dry-eddy pools, where the beach, largely empty of people mandated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, resumed its slope more steeply, toward the upper dunes.

Easter 2020, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

She dug the soles of her topsiders into the sand, still damp from the past night’s high tide.  It always felt good, unfailingly restorative, she thought.  Resting her arms on her knees, she gazed eastward into the grayness of the rain clouds on the horizon to the broken clouds and blue sky above.  The sun had finally made its first appearance above the rain clouds, on what would become a warm mid-April morning in northeast Florida.

She was totally in her element.  A seventh-generation Floridian, she loved the waters and land of her native state.  She wished she could have seen for herself, more of the Florida her father loves to talk about – the mid-twentieth century Florida of his youth, the Florida he loved, the Florida before air conditioning, interstate highways, and theme parks.

This was her routine, every year, on Easter morning.

She reflected on the words of John Eldredge and Brent Curtis, describing the silence, solitude, meditation, and simplicity of what they referred to as desert communion:  “We have come to the shores of heaven together, to the border of the region where our Christianity begins to move from a focus on doing, to one of communion with Christ.”

She reached over and removed her 35mm SLR from its backpack, and waited.  At the right time, she switched the mode to manual, adjusted the aperture and exposure, partially depressed the shutter and studied the image in her viewfinder.

She released the shutter, studied the image, and then set the camera aside.

The intrepid, results-based consultant turned her thoughts back more than two thousand years, to the pre-dawn darkness of the first Easter morning, as she tried to reconstruct what the now disillusioned and despairing friends and followers of Jesus of Nazareth must have been thinking and feeling for the better part of the past two days.

Prophecies notwithstanding, when they went to the grave site on the morning of the third day, what did they really expect to find?  By every rational explanation and every shred of evidence, this man of so much promise, in whom they had placed so much hope, was dead.

They had been eyewitnesses to His death, and the effects of the torture and humiliation that preceded it;  the term excruciating, she reminded herself, came from the Latin ex crucis, meaning literally, “out of the cross”;  Roman crucifixions left nothing to the imagination.

They had been witnesses to his burial, as well, and the unusually intense security of his tomb.

For the friends and followers of Jesus, this was certainly more than the physical death of one man;  for them, it was the death of all Hope.

Her thoughts eventually moved to another time not far removed from the darkness of the days following the death of Jesus, as Peter, and others, asserted, for everyone to hear, that not only had they witnessed His torture, crucifixion, and burial, but they had also been the eye-witnesses to His resurrection.

Rather than abandoning their faith and succumbing to hopelessness, Peter and the other apostles were now stating, publicly, for everyone to hear, that they were willing to live their lives – and to give their lives – for the lives of others, and for the Faith and the Hope that Jesus’ crucifixion, death and resurrection gave all of them.

In the words of the apostle Paul, penned later to the churches of Galatia, they were all saying, in essence, “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And, the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

That has been the experience of every Christian, ever since, she among them.

She smiled, and whispered.

“Risen”.

 

“God’s Kingdom had come, not at the end of time, but within time – and that had changed the texture of both time and history.  History continued, but those shaped by the Easter Effect became the people who knew how history was going to turn out.  Because of that, they could live differently.  The Easter Effect impelled them to bring a new standard of equality into the world and to embrace death – as martyrs, if necessary – because they knew, now, that death did not have the final word in the human story.”  (“The Easter Effect and How It Changed the World”, The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2018)

Everything else – past, present, or future – either points toward, or proceeds from, the fact of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we rejoice and celebrate every Easter.