There have been many Easter holidays, but for most that are alive now, this Easter is different. Anything I might say about a pandemic would be redundant. Most of what I have to say about Easter, even, would be only what has been said before. Knowing this… I will continue to write.
“All dressed up and nowhere to go.”
This is the case this year for most. However, there are good things in the world. There are good things in the world because you are in the world. Still living and breathing, still able to notice the pulse of life in all things. Some are passing through and some are passing on, but you are here. You are here and have the capacity to change the world.
Sometimes people ask me if I am a Christian (Christians typically celebrate Easter). My response is similar to Maya Angelou when she answered a question like this by saying, “I’m working at it, which means that I try to be as kind and fair and generous and respectful and courteous to every human being.”
At one time in my life, I claimed Christianity without hesitation. My definitions of religion were clear and my obligations, as such, seemed easily fulfilled. I was not open to other ways of thinking, either found in different religions, or even other Christian philosophies. It is not that I am so spiritual now, or intellectually eclectic, but I understand that I know so little. I know so little that I have become open to any sincere expression of the divine in others.
But, since it is Easter, I will put on my Jesus hat for a few moments and say a few words about what this holiday means to me.
Several years ago, I woke up late and stumbled outside to smoke a cigarette with my father. He had been to church and I noticed he was wearing a tie and jacket. When I asked him what special occasion prompted him to dress in that way, he told me it was Easter. Suddenly, I realized, that this was the first Easter service I had missed in twenty years. Easter morning had come and gone without my even knowing it was near.
As I expressed my disappointment with myself and what had taken place, my father smiled and said, “It is still Easter. Even if you missed the service.”
While I have both attended and missed Easter services since that day, I have never felt guilty or proud or about missing or attending a service. So much of what goes on in the world has so little to do with me. In religion, in politics, in relationships, in my professional life, in nature, and even in the will of what the creator dreams. Very little depends on me.
My hope is that in some heart, somewhere, there is a smile when the mind connected to that heart sees me pass through. If a smile creeps up the face of a man or woman, or the face of a child, when they see a picture I have drawn, I am content. If they reluctantly tell a silly joke I shared, I have done my job. It is not important for me what religion was credited for the smile, the drawing, or the silly joke. I am not a billboard for Buddha, or Jesus, or Lao Tzu… though it might be nice at times to feel like I was on this or that team.
Today it is Easter… and people will celebrate a risen savior. They will talk about how he was “bruised for our iniquities” and how death is defeated. Typically, a preacher would work in also how we need to accept forgiveness to avoid the horrible fate of hell. Those that attended would feel better that they had gone and that they had dropped some money in the plate that year. And then Monday would come.
If I were to give a sermon online for churches, I would say this. Jesus said we would do what he had done and more. If we feel like he offered forgiveness, we should busy ourselves with offering forgiveness. And if we were to offer forgiveness, we might consider not coercing those forgiven into reciting some prayer or require their joining some organization. We would simply tell others, that in some imperfect way, they are becoming perfect. That they are where they need to be and nothing more is required for our pardoning.
Also, I might suggest that forgiveness is merely a tool to be used. Forgiveness is an expression of Love and not the “be all and end all” of Love. It is not that Love exists to forgive, but that forgiveness exists because Love is what it is. In this way, it is similar to a kind thought, a prayer, an act of charity, or the receiving and giving of good things.
The last thing I might suggest to those gathered to hear about Jesus on an Easter Sunday, is to quit worrying to what religion everyone is committed. Stop with the questions about whether people are going to heaven and/or hell. Rethink what Jesus meant by his mission and what should be shared by the light that is within. Offer grace the way it was offered to you… without strings, without requirements (even the requirement of some magical prayer or admission of guilt). If grace was offered to you in this way, please consider if it was given by a person or by the divine.
And then I would say, take the money you were going to spend on an Easter suit and give it away. Preferably to someone or something you feel does not deserve the gift. I would close with some song by Kris Kristofferson or Cat Stevens. Maybe even John Lennon. And at the end of the webcast, I would post a sign that says, “You are doing okay… there is only love.”
Happy (Easter) Sunday.