“Happy Easter.” It’s been said to me in every business and public place that I have been for the last 48 hours. The person saying it is doing it as a cheerful wish and greeting that clearly seems to fit the culture of the community. The person saying it has no idea if I am Christian or not, whether I observe Easter or not, and assumes that it will be a welcome wish. In other words, it presumes a certain triumph of a religious perspective over all others that simply isn’t true.
So, what does Easter mean–to me, to you, to any of us gathering in communities of faith this morning to celebrate “Easter?” Rather than pose that the Christian message of Easter is on its way out (and one could make the case for a waning Christianity as both Americans and Europeans leave churches increasingly at this point in history), I’d like to suggest that even as religious institutions grow weaker, perhaps, just perhaps, the power of the story itself might gain new strength. After all, there is a precedence in the Christian tradition of new life coming after a death.
Perhaps we gather today to look back on the kinds of loss and death we each have encountered this past year, and even which losses our communities have felt. Perhaps, we gather to notice where we are right now–after loss, traversing grief, and ask ourselves what meaning we can make of it, what direction our next steps will take us in. Perhaps we gather today and search for the light of hope and possibility that glimmers even if slightly through the budding blades of spring grass like an Easter egg. What helps me move on from here? What possibilities are emerging for us right now ONLY because we have been through death’s loss and back again?
You see, this story was never just about a man named Jesus living in Galilee some 2000 years ago. This is a perennial story that belongs to all of humanity. We do, in fact, face death and loss all the time, but the power of the story is that we always find a new hope, a new life, a new step to take in and through and after the loss. Just like the women, his disciples, who followed Jesus, we do have to go out and seek the message that comes after the death. And then head to our Galilee.