Hello Friends and Happy Easter. Christ is RISEN!!
Easter egg hunts have been in the news all week, both because of the controversy in the White House over the invitations that went out warning that the one on the White House lawn might need to be cancelled, as well as the refusal of some school districts to refer to “Easter eggs,” only as “Spring eggs.” Come on. Easter egg hunts. They are part of many's most beloved childhood memories, even though they have very little to do with the real Easter. Or do they?
Coloring eggs; that sweet smell of vinegar; getting those same six colors all over fingers, clothes, and counter-tops year after year. Then getting up early enough to compete against brothers and sisters to find the most eggs and goodies. But while some of the traditions behind Easter egg hunts have remained the same, there has been one big change that has transformed large community-wide egg hunts, Sunday school class quests, and our own living room look-fors.
Let’s get real: people might still color and decorate real eggs. But how many of those actual hard-boiled eggs get taken out of the fridge and hidden anymore? Real eggs have been replaced with plastic eggs. The realities of lurking bacteria and potential lawsuits have banished actual eggs from almost every “egg hunt.” Instead, plastic eggs filled with store-bought candies have, for the sake of sanity and sanitation, replaced the hand-colored hard-boiled real egg.
That's what happens, not just when we've learned that eating eggs that have sat around at room temperature for several hours can lead to bad things. That is what happens when our culture is focused more on things, on collecting objects, than it is on people, celebrating life and connecting subjects. We live in a culture of collections more than connections. At the heart of the culture of death is the reduction of human beings to things which can be collected, bought or sold, used or not used, broken and then thrown away.
When the women set out at first light, they are on a death mission. Having witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion, having shadowed Joseph of Arimathea to the site of Jesus’ tomb, and having spent their last hours before the Sabbath collecting the spices and concocting the ointments for anointing the dead, the only thing on the minds of these women on Easter morning is death, and on the things death requires. They are focused on the tomb. They fixate on the grave clothes. They savor the scents they are bringing to mask the stench of death.
These women are immersed in the culture of death. They are concerned only with “things” of death. They are preoccupied with those objects they can lay their hands on. They do not have any expectation of encountering a “someone,” of bumping up against a subject to connect to. They certainly do not anticipate encountering a completely new life and connection to the divine.
Easter morning is the moment when everything changes. A culture of death becomes a culture of life. A culture of collections becomes a culture of connections. Nothing less than the entire way the world was ordered is recreated and birthed anew. The tomb of death becomes the womb of life. Jesus cannot be contained or collected in the cold stone of earth. He is risen, a living connection, and has gone before us. The expectation of death is unexpectedly replaced with the presence of life. Instead of finding a dead body, the first visitors to what had been designated as Jesus’ tomb, find a living word, and embrace the promise of a living Lord.
Jesus Easter morning surprise moved the women who came to the tomb from a culture of death to a culture of life, from a world of objects — tombs and ointments, sadness and loss — to a world of subjects — where Jesus’ self-sacrifice was made a life altering, life atoning, life affirming option for everyone who “remembered” or heard the news of his defeat of death.
After Easter morning, none of us are objects waiting for death. After Easter morning, all of us are subjects, children of God, invited to join in new life and to start eternal life now. The Resurrection of Jesus is the sudden declaration by God that we are someone and never just something. You are a subject, not an object. And you are called to live in a culture of life, even amidst a culture of death. With meaning to life coming from connections, not collections.