Easter Joy and Easter Tragedy

My Easter celebration was really wonderful this year. I lead Triduum services with John that included a fabulous Easter vigil with the participation of both college and seminary students. I always find the Great Three Days a very meaningful experience, and this year was no exception. Then, I attended a fabulous Easter morning service, with great music, inspiring texts, surrounded by friends and family. Easter Sunday was a gorgeous day as well, and I was able to go for a long run and a short bike ride, and it was such a blessing to be outdoors in the beauty of God’s blooming spring creation.

After all that, sometime later in the day when I finally turned to the news, I saw the reports coming out from Sri Lanka. Given that I had just been in a very full church a few hours earlier, I had a vivid sympathetic response to the news, unfortunately being able to dimly imagine what it would have been like to be singing one moment, and surrounded by rubble and broken bodies the next.

Certainly, in these tragic situations, there is no use in making comparisons: Sri Lanka to Christ Church to Pittsburgh. All are horrific, all are senseless, all are tragic.  When people are murdered in a place of worship, similar to in a school, we feel violated, as a place we consider a sanctuary has been invaded and desecrated.

Wrestling with all this left me with the question: “How do you proclaim the resurrection in the midst of such death and destruction?” But then I thought, maybe the better question is, “How do you not?” In truth, Christians proclaim the resurrection for situations just like this; and we are able to face suffering and death precisely because we know it has already been conquered.

Hope, not despair; life, not death; reconciliation, and not alienation; these are the things we lift up and celebrate when we celebrate the new life we have received in Jesus Christ, and the future glory that is breaking in on us even now promising us life and life abundant.
The fact is, our Easter proclamation, our Easter faith does not only have meaning in a church full of spring flowers and pretty dresses. It has as much meaning, maybe more meaning, in a church of smoke, rubble, grief, and pain.
The hope is the same, and promise remains sure.  The tomb is empty, even when mass graves are dug.

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