Happy Easter! Good Friday was in-your-face suffering, death, and despair. Through all that – and it’s real, all too real – Easter answers “What’s to become of us?” “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord” (Psalm 118:17).
Easter, it seems to me, is the one holiday that our commercialized, me-centered culture has not co-opted. Christmas has been taken over by secular forces that drive American life today. That’s why we hear the protest, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” And thinking about other American holidays, we can comprehend, manage and monetize whatever the specific holiday commemorates, but Easter? Any news reports today about how much money retailers took in because of Easter? Our value and faith free public culture – it’s all about me – doesn’t know what to do with the resurrection of Christ.
The closest secular comparison to Easter I can think of is Ground Hog Day. Punxsutawney Phil arises from his sleep, gives us a six-week future, and leaves us. We don’t believe it and, save for a movie, haven’t commercialized it. We keep on living our ho-hum lives, man turned in on himself, as theologians say. Today’s public culture can’t believe the truth of Easter any more than it believes Phil.
“There is no accounting for the rise of Christianity without weighing the revolutionary effect on those nobodies of what they called ‘the Resurrection’: their encounter with the one whom they embraced as the Risen Lord.” “They were witnesses to something inexplicable but nonetheless true. Something that gave a superabundance of meaning to life and that erased the fear of death. Something that had to be shared. Something with which to change the world.” (George Weigel, WSJ, March 31-April 1; C1-2).
Mysteriously buried with Christ, God creates life out of nothing. “I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation” (Psalm 118:21). Easter turns us outward, at least some of us.