We are in the Season of Easter, often referred to as Eastertide. If you grew up like I did, I imagine you might be surprised that Easter is a season, not just one day. Easter is a powerful time in our church calendar.
We have wandered for 40 days, keeping with the biblical motif, exploring new disciplines to help us on our spiritual journey. (Noah, the Israelites, and Jesus). We walked with Jesus and his disciples in the wildness of Holy Week and the horrors it brought. Now, we celebrate the unbelievable gift that is symbolized in resurrection. As we pass through death, we find our way into new life. Life is never ended; it is changed.
This is what Easter is about. Exploring the Way of being that Jesus gave to us in the covenant of the Eucharist, the sacred meal we share that is enacted by his dying for love in the face of hate and fear. Death could not keep the gift of this love, and now we are invited, as the disciples on the road to Emmaus, to see where we may find God in the breaking of the bread. This old-fashioned expression, “breaking of the bread,” means committing ourselves to spending time together. Eating together. Striving to live into this great Love. It is in this practice that we are transformed, the word I choose to replace “saved.”
The word “salvation” has taken on a dark and loaded new meaning in our current culture that it did not mean when it was used in Scripture. It literally means “the process of healing.” A salve doesn’t deliver you from hell or judgment, it is an ointment for healing a wound. I think in our time, as in Jesus’ time, this is the gift of the Easter story: how do we heal the wounds we continue to endure, so that beloved community can truly exist? This is what salvation is meant to be, I think. It is a transformation into the best version of ourselves, not being delivered from ourselves.
Something we have lost in our culture’s obsession with individuality is the understanding that our Jewish sisters and brothers still hold of what the messianic era is about: community. Jesus never intended his call to us to be about our individual selves, or our personal “salvation” from hell. He was more broadly minded than that. He calls us to heal each other. To be good stewards of the earth. To reconcile relationships that are broken. To help people find liberation from that which enslaves them.
This is why Death could not keep Jesus or his message. Try as Rome might, his story, his way, his love, would not only survive, it would be adopted by Rome itself! It is our responsibility to come out of hiding from the things that seek to destroy a just and kind world. We then must begin to see what is next. These next few weeks are the time to rest, to recover from the weight of Holy Week. It is in this time I encourage us to ponder more deeply what Jesus taught, and what his last visitations tell us about his hope for his legacy. In 50 days, we will explore how the empowerment of the Holy Spirit made possible the calling of his disciples into public engagement.