Justin and I went to church this morning, a refreshing taste of past routine. We dressed a little more carefully today because it is Easter, and Easter is the holiest day in the Christian calendar. The day that Christ rose from the dead to save us from....
You know what?
I am so tired of the hell-fire-and brimstone talk that I don't want to even write it that way.
Christ rose to assure us that He was still with us, and would be forever watching over us and acting as a spokesperson for us when we needed to talk to God. Christ rose to remind us that we are saved by grace through faith alone. (Romans) In other words, Christ rose to remind us that we just have to believe in Him and His Love and he will protect us and lead us to salvation and safety from the ills of existence (not to say that we won't still experience human suffering, but spiritually we will know that God's there saying to whatever devil it is that hounds us, "Hey! That's my kid! Leave her alone!"). The neatest part about this reciprocal friendship is that God's love is given freely and without expectation or ties or rules--He just says, "I love you. No exceptions. Thanks for being down there."
Easter--the reverse of Christmas: when he was born we brought Him gifts because Christ was just Baby Jesus and needed some stuff, but for Easter He gives us the gift of his life (again, actually) and everlasting love for everyone. All this giving just because of love--and love for practically strangers.
I mean, think about it. It's not like we knew this kid Jesus when he was born. We'd just heard that he was important and present, so we gave him symbols of our love--presents. Then, when he dies and rises He's giving everyone His love, and sure there's all that talk about Him knowing every hair on our heads and every sparrow, but he doesn't know who is coming into this world and He says He'll be there for all those future people anyway.
Pretty cool altruism all around, I'd say.
Still, it's a funny thing about Easter. There's a prevalent assumption that people will have Plans for Easter. That there will be a Celebration. That the Celebration will mostly involve gorging ourselves on a lot more food than we really need, and some chocolate and candy for good measure. Also, little kids expect the Easter bunny to hide eggs or leave baskets full of stuff for them, so that they can celebrate the joy of Easter by getting stuff.
Hmmm. I know there's some way to make The Bunny a Christian symbol, but really--what's with all this giving junk to people? Seems like even though Christ showed up at a meal to say He was alive even though they'd buried Him, he wasn't expecting chocolate eggs all over the place. In fact, I don't even remember that he asked for much, except that we were to love one another... His mantras, "Love one another." "Saved by grace through Faith alone."
I think if Christ had come to the door today, he wouldn't have minded that Justin and I were both working on our, well, work.
We did also take the time to call our family and our friends who get excited about holidays like Easter, but other than that the only thing that set this Sunday apart from all the other Sundays of the year was that it was the first Sunday ever after The Match. So we were a little more peaceful and happy than we've been recently.
Also, there's the one thing I really hate about Easter. The church is packed with Easter lilies--the only flower I am so allergic to that it makes my skin itch, my throat tickle and my eyes irritated--and just because they look like trumpets (to herald the arrival of Christ) they're everywhere.
But today, on Easter Sunday, four more Americans died in Iraq.
We have let 4000 people from America die in this war in that country, and that doesn't count the Iraqis and other collateral damage.
Wonder what Christ is thinking about that, Mr. Bush.
He'd probably rather chill with the Easter Bunny and eat some chocolate eggs. Maybe he'd even hang out with the Muslims and the Jews and the Gentiles and instead of watching them attack the so-called safe Green Zone he'd break bread and share it with them.
What I really thinks He wants on Easter, is for us to throw more love around than usual--like the extra flowers blooming in spring.
I think Jesus might have peaked into our apartment and been happy to see two of his people loving their own lives more than they have at certain other points in the year, loving each other freely and unconditionally, and calling our friends and family to celebrate the love in those relationships even though we didn't all gather for dinner.
And about that working... I think He'd be pretty happy to see that we both do work that we love and that we hope will enrich the lives of others through the gifts that we pour into these projects.
Today was Justin's sixth birthday in terms of Christian Church Calendar years since he was baptized on Easter. We noticed it and were glad, but it seemed like a lot of effort to get the candle he was given to light each year to remember his baptism, whereas with taking a break from work and sitting on the couch chatting about it seemed like a lot less work--which is a celebration unto itself.
Also today the sermon was especially good, and the church was brimming with not only those damn Easter lilies but with so much love... granddaughters there because their grandmother is so hopeful that they will join her at church, older kids watching the mystery of Communion and partaking in it even if they didn't quite know how, younger kids who have been hanging out in this church for quite some time now taking Communion and being so delighted at receiving the same gift the grown-ups get each Sunday that they dash from the Table thrilled and grinning as they still hold the wafer they've been given but are too shy and too excited to eat right there in front of the Pastor--they catch up to the safety of their parents and eat then.
So many of us sitting in the pews watched that little boy's joy and laughed quietly at his exuberance. I think we did it because even if he didn't know it at all and was just excited to be at the grown-up table, he reminded us of the significance of receiving Communion--Christ's body and blood and also the symbol that we all have in common the belief in the Holy Trinity. Probably after decades of taking the bread and the wine it gets easy to just do the whole service by rote instead of heart, but that little boy exhibited the ecstatic joy that coming to The Table is meant to bring. I mean, good Lord, we're Eating the body of Christ. How much more intimate and exciting can this relationship get? He's really just giving us everything. I mean Everything. How can we receive it as though someone were handing us a pencil to borrow?
Justin watched all this happen, and said, "That's awesome! Proper happiness."