I know the importance of holding in tandem all the events of Christ: birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Though I do hold these events in tandem, each one solicits from me a different response. Christmas brings with it anticipation and expectation: the baby has been born; the great rescue plan is under way! Christ's life solidifies that I can have that expectation and anticipation; he is the perfect one, his is the same mission pursuit as the One who sent him: to seek and save the lost, to heal up the brokenhearted, to set right what was wrong, to defend the defenseless (to mention a few).
Good Friday thrusts me in to solemnity that leads to my own death as I witness Christ's death because he so loved the world that he couldn't leave the cries of the burdened and oppressed go unheard. Easter is the brilliant light in the darkness; Christ's resurrection draws from me a deep sigh of relief: my hope finds its grounding and fulfillment. The ascension reminds me: God is with me, God is working in the world, perpetually making things and people new and overhauling the dead.
As a rational and logical person I hold these events of Christ's activity toward and on behalf of the world together, each being inextricably linked to the other; but as someone who has suffered violence at the hands and words of other humans, Easter pulls strongest: hope springs eternal. My voice pares with Mary’s; even in the worst of the worst, the traumatic of the traumatic my hope reverberates in the midst of the syllables of Mary’s proclamation to the disciples: I have seen the Lord! (John 20:18).
As a sufferer, I need to be called out of myself in the midst of my suffering, I need to be called not to look down at myself (turned/turning inward) but up at Jesus, raise my face to see this very God who is merciful and unyielding in mercy; who, by the life of Jesus, through the event of the incarnation and the cross, declared “it will not always be so.” Suffering has a unique way of drawing us to the Suffering God who suffered on the cross, who was raised from the dead, and has declared that the suffering of this life will not last forever, that it is not the final word, and that God has conquered it. Suffering draws us to this God who is not far off when we are at our worst, ugliest, decrepit, sick, infirm, maimed, even when we are angry at God about our own suffering or the suffering of those close to us. Suffering draws us to this God who has come close and breathes into our breathless lungs—lungs carried in bodies exhausted from the battle, pelted by the hail-storms of pain and loss, bones made brittle by unfulfilled pleas and petitions. And this is our Easter Hope: with God, even in our very real suffering, life triumphs death.
The ascension reminds me: God is with me, God is working in the world, perpetually making things and people new and overhauling the dead.
When Easter draws nigh, we become excited: hope springs eternal in this particular event and we feel the celebration of it at our fingertips and in our hearts. However, hope is not restricted to Easter. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is our hope not only when the liturgical calendar tells us it’s Easter and while priests don white stoles. To only speak of resurrection hope at Easter is to deny how powerful and how important that event is in our daily lives. Death and resurrections is the foundation of our encounter with God in the event of faith; it’s also the primary event in our growth in Christ every day we walk this planet. When relationships fail: Easter hope. When the pain of past trauma rears its head yet again: Easter hope. When you screw up…again: Easter hope. When you are in the thick of life’s drudgery: Easter hope. Even when you wake up and everything is just kind of ok: Easter hope.
Because of the encounter with God in the event of faith, our Easter hope locates us in the historical event of Christ and into his history, it gives us a present tense, and turns our faces boldly toward the oncoming future without fear because the promises of God have been fulfilled, are being fulfilled, and will be fulfilled. The resurrection of Christ is the event that reverberates through the halls of time all of the time; it is the voice that echoes: "hold-fast; I am." It is the voice that calls us out of ourselves and binds us to our neighbors. Thus, Easter hope, resurrection hope is not a free-pass to sit back and wait for the world to burn while drinking a glass of white-wine; it drives us into the now because in the event-encounter with God we are brought into death and given life, vibrant and abundant life to be lived now. We can fight for and free the oppressed now because we have the audacity and freedom to do so in the here and now, to fully live into thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Cor 15:55-58)
Adapted from this blog post