(An Easter message – for the full video version, click here.)
Friday, the day the world won, we mourned the death of Jesus.
But it is two days later, and what the world didn’t count on was that killing one person would not kill the movement.
They killed Jesus; executed him as a threat, a seditionist against Rome. They probably celebrated that night. He was out of their hair. The Jewish hierarchy and the Roman government could rest easy for a little bit.
But death could not contain love.
Believe what you want about the resurrection (did it really happen, did his body come back to life, was it his spirit, was it a vision?) – I don’t really care – what I know is that a number of those remaining had such a hugely significant experience of Jesus after his death that they believed he was risen in some way, shape or form, and they continued to preach, heal, baptize, and teach in his name. Even when people didn’t believe them, even when families disowned them, even when death threatened them, even when Rome and the Jews persecuted them, even when some of them were killed for their beliefs, they did not give in. It’s possible I have a really weak constitution, but I’d have to experience something really, really significant to go to my death for it.
Ultimately, I believe that his physical death could not kill the power of his love. The love of God.
The Romans and the Jewish hierarchy didn’t count on that.
While Friday we mourned, today we celebrate the power of love to continue even after death so that the movement Jesus began did not die. And so today is the day that Love wins. It is the day that hope blooms again.
Truly, love has won many days.
Friday, we contemplated the many times the systems of power and greed in this world have won. Over and over again throughout history, and no less today, we’ve seen the world squash the underdog, the different, the marginalized, the lower economic brackets. Over and over we’ve seen people of faith and people of compassion imprisoned and killed for living their faith and their convictions, and standing prophetically against the powers that be.
But, while many civil rights activists have been killed over the years, their movements have not died, someone else has picked up the mantle of love – love for the poor, the marginalized, the environment, the children, the women, the refugee, LGBTQIA folks, the animals, the land.
Killing HAS NOT STOPPED LOVE from seeking justice and equality.
Once upon a time, some disciples begged their old and ailing master not to die.
“But if I do not go, how will you ever see?” the Master said to them. “But what is it we can possibly see when you are gone?” With a twinkle in his eye, the Master answered, “All I ever did in my entire life was to sit on the riverbank handing out river water. After I’m gone, I trust that you will notice the river.”
The river water that Jesus handed out was LOVE. Here have some love, have some God. God is love. Notice love. Take love inside you, share it with others. Be love. This is the resurrection over and over again, the appearance of love in our world. Love that will not let greed, anger, hatred, or power win.
Joan Chittester has said, “We must become the love that God is.”
When children are shot in our schools… we must become the love that God is.
When violence leaves millions of people homeless…we must become the love that God is.
When despair and depression turn people to drugs and alcohol… we must become the love that God is.
When the city we live in is the fourth worst city in the nation for black people to live in… we must become the love that God is.
When over 55% of the students in Racine Unified receive free lunches… we must become the love that God is.
When we take up the mantle of love, when we become the love that God is… then resurrection happens. Then every day is the day love wins.
Love & Light!