Night has fallen in Tallahassee and I am now finally getting around to posting for this Easter. One might expect me to expound upon the Gospel lesson. But honestly, I have often felt that there is so little more that any of us can add to the news of Christ's resurrection other than a simple: Wow! I realize priests feel compelled to preach a much more expansive sermon than just saying, "Wow!" There are people out there in the congregation who they likely will not see again, or may see again at Christmas Eve. And so there is pressure to come up with more than, "Wow!"
I just hope everyone does take a moment to sit in quiet and consider the amazing awesomeness of what happens on Easter. Death was not the finality for Christ. He conquered death, too. And in rising, his earthly compatriots, both men and women, are stymied and don't recognize him until he speaks their name, or breaks the bread, or does some other "sign" that let's them see him. In my own mind, I imagine that the Christ that emerges from the grave does not look the same as the one who died on the cross. I imagine that the risen Christ may appear stronger, bigger, perhaps not as world-weary. I would think he would have to be as the final act of saying, "Nothing, absolutely nothing, no amount of hatred, and violence, and jealousy, and stupidity, can crush this life force!" Again, I am brought back to, "Wow!"
For me, in yet another odd twist in God's whacky outreach to me, I found myself listening carefully to the words of St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians:
Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them--though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.--1Cor.15:8-10
This sounds like me. I did not persecute the church of God in the same way that Paul did. I certainly never went around rounding up Christians so we could stone them to death. But I have stood outside the gate of the church in the past, and spit and cursed at it. And I have labeled all Christians homophobic hypocrites. In this way, I have attacked the Body of Christ. But like Paul, I had my own encounter with God that pulled me out of darkness and into the light in a way at a time that I never, ever expected it to happen. It wasn't anything I sought intentionally. In fact, I was resistant. But the day that I was told, in no uncertain terms, to "Show up!" was the day that I did what was the unthinkable in my mind: I started attending church again on a regular basis. And I discovered the liberation afforded through the grace of God and the redemptive power of Christ. Even for me, the queer Christian. Given the history of how the church has treated my kind (and, in some quarters, we're still rejected), coming home to God is no small thing!
This Easter has not felt as exhilarating as others in the past. But it feels incredibly solid in my conviction that Christ counts me as one of the beloved. The fact that I have not deserted Him in the face of opposition , marginalization, and human rejection is truly amazing grace. He is risen... not just in the re-telling of the story but in the hearts and minds of many who others would toss aside. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!