Most Easters find me in motion, without emotions. I am aware, wish to care, but for all that I intend, mostly I just attend.
I’VE BEEN ALIVE for 65 Easters. Discount the kiddie ones, that still leaves decades of Easters. Out of all those Easters, there is one, only one, where I felt something.
I’ve been chasing it ever since.
WHEN YOU’RE A KID, the grownups try to impress upon you the importance of Easter, but what have you done wrong? Didn’t give your father back his change from the $5 bill? Sneaked a stick of gum? Sassed your mother? Sin misdemeanors.
It’s not like I was ambitious to be bad, but I succeeded in a natural progression, from kid bad, to teen bad, to adult bad.
If doing wrong was arithmetic, it would be subtraction. Whatever our good, our self-respect, our identity, we subtract from it when we do bad, and whatever it was, becomes less.
The trajectory of bad is less, to lesser, to least.
On that particular special Easter, I was flat at, my last least. Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of my least…
I was small, looking for big, I was low, looking for high, I was skinny, and hungry for truth. Quite the irony, that only by feeling unsavory, was I receptive to Savior.
I was ripe, for Easter.
I awoke that Easter morning with a tremble. I was fizzy with feelings, for which there were no words. I felt that rarest of being, of being spiritual.
At a time when I felt small in the world, incidental and invisible, even disposable, the idea that God loved me that much, despite my despites, was to me, great gift, perfect gift, all gift, utterly undeserved.
I AM AWARE of aging, which means I am aware of mortality, which makes Easter the bullseye of all bullseyes.
The atheist and I agree on dust to dust. Where we differ is on the purpose, of the dust.
Having been believer and non-believer, I agree with the cynical, that the weak link of Christianity is Christians, not Christ.
But if you’re boiling the Bible down, trying to find the straight line, if you reduce all the Bible stories into a Top Ten, the alpha of the list – surprise, surprise – is not the cross – it’s that empty tomb. A good, innocent man dying, is common; a dead man living again, that’s God stuff.
The empty tomb is the make or break, of Christianity- Boom! It’s the hinge of everything. All that came before it, sets it up; all that comes after, requires it.
I WAS IN a Bible study recently.
I’ve always looked at the Passion Week proceedings as if I was watching a documentary. Everyone is a they, and I get to Monday morning quarterback them. But I wondered, had I been just another Joe in Jerusalem, would I have believed?
If I were an apostle, I’d have been Doubting Thomas. Were I just another Joe in the crowd, I’d have had my arms crossed.
I wouldn’t walk two days, to go see what the hearsay fuss was about. But if He came near, maybe a town away, yeah, I’d go.
I’d try to get in close. I’d want to see His eyes, watch the body language. I’d want to hear His voice. All these supposed things they said He did, I want to see for myself.
That’s who I’d been.
And He’d love me anyway.
OVER THE DECADES of thinking about the cross and the cost, I’ve had moments…
He died for my sins. And yours. It’s cuter, tidier, to the mind, to top out at the low ceiling of the little sins of mostly moral people, who fall small.
It gets messier when something in the news shakes you up, and you two + two it, and realize that Jesus died for the serial killer, and the school shooter…
…and the 9/11 terrorists… and Osama bin Laden too…
You study history, cannibalism, human sacrifice, the murders of all wars, He had to wear all that.
Some years back it blew my gasket, when I imagined that Jesus bore and wore, what Hitler threw upon Him.
What a great waste it seems, that He was required to pay the forgiveness price for those who will never accept the gift of it…
JESUS WEPT on three occasions, all of them are clustered during Easter Week. There’s the one, where he’s looking down on Jerusalem, lamenting the multitude within, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…” He’s in parent mode, wishing to help, but off the children go, to choices full of peril.
There are tears, in the Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane is a crossroads. He knows exactly what is coming. This could be His back-out moment, but He stays, for us.
The third occasion where Jesus cried happened a few days before. He was crying for one person, Lazarus. Though He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, even so, Jesus wept.
Lazarus could be any of us. We’re the one. And if we were, literally the only one, it would still require Jesus, this great fuss, over little ole us…
When Good Friday comes, and Easter next, I won’t fake, but I’d like to truly feel, something real. He gives eternity; the least I can do is try to give back a little Easter get-it, if only for a moment or two…
This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is dedicated to the cost of grace. Let us not waste. All three of Uncle P’s books can be found at Expressions, 3100 Ryan Street, LC. Uncle P can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.