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Easter – One Spring for all, One Resurrection for all

April 6, 2010

  10Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no-one else can share its joy. 

Proverbs 14:10 (NIV) 

Some times it is just a word or two, from a great text, such as the Bible, that can open up a person’s heart to the deeper feelings locked inside. 

For me the above quote from the book of Proverbs, is one that speaks to me today. If you weren’t aware of their existence, they might be difficult to find in the ample writings of the Bible. Sometimes there are sayings that seem so timeless and poignant to the human situation, one is amazed that they were written so many thousands of years ago. Finding them too, as with many books from the Bible can be quite difficult for the unexperienced reader, they are like pearls stuck in the mud of the author’s preaching about morality, foolishness and wisdom.  Looking at the whole you can get one message, looking at the words in detail selectively brings another. 

Still, this is what Proverbs 14:10 states: 

10Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no-one else can share its joy. 

These words resonate with me deeply this Easter, an Easter I have consciously chosen to celebrate alone, and with my faithful and loving parents and ailing grandmother. I guess at the outset it is important to say that – I am so very, very fortunate to be in the situation I am with such loving and caring family living close by, as well as money in my pocket, a nice place to live, in a peaceful and stable democratic country such as England in the United Kingdom. 

I feel it is worth stating at the outset that compared to most people in the world today, I live in paradise. It is so easy to forget this when we compare our successes and failures to our neighbours and peers or media stereotypes and expectations. So, I thank God for how lucky I am. I am very fortunate. 

At the same time, this year’s Easter celebrations have been difficult and challenging. It has been difficult to be stood in the gap between the World and the Church, trying to be faithful to God and at the same time staying aware of the great hidden and secret pains so many people have outside of the Church. People that all, my Bible reading since I was a child, tells me that God dearly, dearly cares about even though for many it must seem God is a bitter illusion and a sick joke amidst their pain and suffering. Yet, not always so. 

This Easter, I have to admit I have felt the Resurrection very much absent in my life in my limited engagement with the Church and the people of the church, save for a few often marginalised followers who feel deeply the world’s gaping alienation and God’s desire to tend to those wounded scars on the souls of every day people. 

Bare winter woods feel the first taste of Spring sun

Resurrection has been present to me through the beauty, new birth and light of Spring. A blessing that has struck me particularly this year as a completely Universal phenomenon. There is only one glorious spring for all people, regardless of their values, beliefs or behaviours. There isn’t one spring for Christians, another for Muslims, another for atheists (or perhaps they really don’t deserve a spring at all?!), another for Jews, Buddhists or Hindus.

I mean: “Is there?!”

There’s just one wonderful, warm, vibrant new season where grass bursts into growth and buds appear in trees, and the sun shines through the branches of the trees or through the gaps in the sky line.

One Spring. 

One Resurrection? 

This year, I felt a profound sense of how the Resurrection of Jesus which Christians generally celebrate at least in the Northern hemisphere, in the season of Spring. Is and was always meant to be a new start for humanity or even for all creation. I don’t think it was ever meant to be the birth of another religion or sect. I’m pretty sure it was meant to be God intervening in history through Jesus, to wipe the debts of people free, and give the opportunity for a new divinely infused life – combining in nature and human beings, a new kind of heaven and earth combination. 

New green shoots burst through the dead leaves of winter

Heaven and earth renewed together. A new gift, a new start for all of life to begin again, actually not trapped in the power systems of religious or political elites or social stigmas. 

As Christians, over the centuries have spoken about this New Life, as being ‘Born Again’. Not I would argue to become a new kind of religious fundamentalist of whatever colour – Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Sectarian. But rather just a new start at life, with a new relationship with the Divine that is based completely on God’s acceptance and forgiveness of us as human beings – NOT ANGER, JUDGEMENT, CAPRICIOUS, VINDICTIVE PUNISHMENT… 

No, this Resurrection thing is about new birth, and the human person being in a mutual relationship with the Creator, the Divine, like a Mother and Child, like a Father cooing over his baby. 

And just like Spring, it’s meant for ALL of us. God doesn’t distinguish between the good, the bad, the ugly and the indifferent when the earth turns closer to the Sun and warms under its fire and light. Nor, I believe is Easter and the Resurrection meant to be an invitation to become religious or a cog in the religious establishment, which so many people find difficult to agree with. 

It’s simply New Life for everyone through Jesus. A complete cancellation of debts and a $100 million dollars in the bank, if you like. 

All the rest of it, the religious side if you like is simply meant to be about how we can learn and grow to make the best of this wonderful new start and gift. Anything else is an encroaching attempt by misguided people to try to impose conditions and requirements, fences and boundaries around what God has supplied and provided for so freely. So that certain human beings and certain organisations set an agenda for how and what, and whom and when people can receive this blessing. 

For me this behaviour which is common to all religions and all societies and all traditions is the opposite of the Resurrection, even though it might be widely dressed up and decorated as such, to speak plainly, it is not. In a way it’s Anti-Resurrection. It’s a return to rules and regulations and conditions and approval/disapproval by established ‘authorities’ – the exact thing the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth, came to do away with. 

I guess this kind of institutionalisation and regulated administration of a Divinely, freely given gift is part of my pain in my heart…and without going into very personal details, “No one understands it”. It has been a lesson taught through experience (what better teacher?) and unless you have experienced it at first hand, you would find it difficult to believe. 

I finish for today on this note: roughly 7% of the population attended church on EAster sunday to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, (it could be more possibly 9 or 10%). On the other hand, approximately 100% of the population are experiencing the new life of Spring in these weeks in one way or another. Would it be unreasonable to assume that: if there is a Creator God, who fashioned the seasons of nature for peoples’ and the earth’s benefit, and if this Creator God is also the same God that raised Jesus from the dead, then maybe this God doesn’t want only a fraction of the population to experience the benefits of the Resurrection this year or any year? Perhaps, the Resurrection was really not meant to be the beginning of a new sect administered by priests, bishops, authorities and councils, traditions and rituals, but simply a new season of life and peace with God for humanity and all of nature.

What do you think?

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