A classic clergy joke/fantasy is of calling up the head of the congregation on Easter weekend and saying “You’ve done Easter services so often, you don’t really need me there to lead, so I’m going on vacation. See you in two weeks!” Ah, for clergy deep in the emotional work of parish care and multiple sermon prep, the siren song of skipping ‘just this one time’ is sooooo appealing. (sigh)
But we don’t because that would mean missing one of the most important parts of our life of faith: the moment we get reminded that we can stand up again. This is because, ultimately, the work of resurrection is standing up again. It’s what the Greek word for resurrection, anastasia actually means. It means to stand up, to rise up again. So every time we stand up, there’s a resurrection.
For old film buffs, this may ring a bell. In the film “On the Waterfront” Father Barry preaches a sermon where he connects the evils we do to each other and calls them “a crucifixion.” He looks at the way people “don’t see” and let things slide because “it’s not my job” and calls them crucifixions. It’s a powerful moment when he pulls back the curtain of the world and shows us the spiritual underpinnings of it all.
It also leads to a question for us: where’s the resurrection?
That is kind of the point of Easter. Death doesn’t win, the crucifixions: the mob bosses who kill, the cops who get away with violence, the drug pushers, the pimps, and the abusers who are today’s attendants at the crucifixion don’t win the game. Jesus takes their crap and evil and barbarity into the tomb with him and leaves them there. All this is good and beautiful in its way but this is only part of the story.
Where are the resurrections?
It was Jesus’ death, burial, AND resurrection that makes the moment powerful. Lots of people die and are buried, not so many take the next step.
So if the final resurrection is That Great Gettin’ Up Morning and that morning is part of the time described as “in that day, declares the LORD” are there little resurrections? Are there moments when we stand up again, when we anastasia from the place where we were?
- When a woman recognizes that she has a voice that matters, there’s a resurrection.
- When a child accepts that mom and dad are wrong to beat them, there’s a resurrection.
- When a man sees through society’s lies about “being manly,” there’s a resurrection.
- When black lives matter, when trans lives matter, when life itself matters, there is resurrection.
There are a lot of moments in life where we stand up and walk away from the people who yell at us, hit us, and belittle us. All of those are resurrections.
There are moments when we stand up to the lies we were told, the lies we have carried with us in our hearts, those too are resurrections.
There are times we look at the horrors of our past and say “you were then, I am now” letting those moments go into the great forgiveness, even those moments are resurrections.
This is because resurrection is the movement from sitting to standing, from loss to living, from frozen in fear to moving in the dance. It is a movement we can engage in because Jesus is real and risen. It is a movement for which we have the power because of the Risen Christ in us.
And that is why, even though we “all know how this story ends” already and we’ve “done this like, a hundred times before” we’re going to get up early and celebrate a resurrection because there, right there in front of us all, That’s a Resurrection.