Tag Archives: Easter

How Thugs Celebrated Easter

Tarzan was raised by apes. Mowgli was raised by wolves. They can probably both be thankful they weren’t raised by modern-day parents in America.

This weekend, Easter egg hunts at Orange, Connecticut, and Proctor, Vermont, turned ugly, very ugly, as parents jumped the starting signal and raced onto the fields to scarf up all the eggs ( http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/pushy-parents-create-mess-at-easter-egg-hunts/ar-BBqZPIR?ocid=ansmsnnews11 ). The scene in Proctor was a near-riot which had to be broken up by police.

Last year they had an even bigger fiasco in Sacramento, California, as parents trampled and cursed at small children in what was intended to be the world’s biggest Easter egg hunt.

So our culture’s all right, is it? Nothing wrong here?

I can’t even imagine my father or my mother behaving like that–or any other adult I knew in my childhood, either. The whole community would have been appalled, and the offender packed off somewhere where he could never trouble us again.

And let us not forget that the whole affair was blasphemous. Easter is the day we proclaim the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Redeemer of us all.

But then I doubt very, very much that that would ever have occurred to any of these post-Christian parents.

Mary Magdalene, on Easter Morning


Try to imagine that morning.

The Passover is finished. It’s the day after the Sabbath, very, very early in the morning. Jerusalem is quiet, seeming almost eerily quiet after all the recent uproar.

Mary, from the town of Magdala, has followed Jesus Christ everywhere. She has seen him crucified, taken down, dead, from the cross, and placed in a tomb. She is numb with grief. Almost automatically, she proceeds to the tomb–donated by Joseph of Arimathea–to minister to Jesus’ body. That work could not have been done yesterday, on the Sabbath. There are wounds to wash, spices to apply.The Bible says two other women came with her to do this.

Try to imagine this: the Sanhedrin put a guard at the tomb, claiming they didn’t want Jesus’ followers to steal the body and then claim He was risen. But when Mary and the others arrive, in the grey dawn, the guards are unconscious and the great stone used to seal the tomb has been rolled away.

It must have taken some courage to pass through that dark doorway into the tomb itself. There the women found Jesus’ body gone. An angel, or maybe two angels, appeared and told them, “He is not here.”

The story gets slightly confused–naturally! Matthew reports that the three women, after meeting the risen Christ, ran to tell the good news to His disciples. This is repeated in Mark, with the addition that Mary Magdalene was the first to see Him. Luke reports that the disciples did not believe Mary and the others: “their words seemed to them as idle tales.” Both Luke and John report that Peter went to the sepulcher and found only Jesus’ grave clothes there, no dead body.

Now try to imagine this, from the Gospel of St. John (20:11-18).

After finding their Lord’s tomb empty, somehow Mary became separated from her companions. It’s easy to imagine her wandering about with no clear idea of going anywhere. She has seen an angel, but it doesn’t seem to have registered with her.

She meets a man whom she supposes to be the gardener (for the tomb is in a garden). He has come to work early. He asks her, “Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?”

Naturally, Mary believes someone pried open the tomb and stole Jesus’ body. These last three days (and Day Three has only just begun) have been too much for her. Although Jesus Himself said all of this would happen, her mind rebels, just as Peter’s did. No! No! None of this was supposed to happen! It’s all wrong!

She begs the gardener to tell her where they’ve put the body.

Then he speaks her name. “Mary.” And her eyes clear, and she sees. This is not the gardener. This is the Son of Man, and He is risen.

Can you imagine her amazement? And her ecstatic joy? She must have been half-crazed with joy and relief, and maybe more than half. Can you blame the disciples for not believing her, when she told them Christ was risen, and that He had spoken to her? How could she even speak coherently?

Of course the accounts in the Bible don’t tally 100%. How could they? The witnesses to these things were beside themselves–first with grief and horror and woe, and then with joy and triumph and astonishment. They saw Jesus tortured and killed. And then they saw Him living–even ate with Him, and touched Him.

But it was Mary from Magdala who was the first of all the human race to experience the birth, as of an explosion which creates a new sun that shines forever, of a new beginning to history. “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? …But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15: 54-57)

Imagine Mary’s Easter morning.

Someday each of us shall meet that same gardener; and when He speaks to us, we shall know His voice.

What’s Missing from the Easter Message?

The Episcopal Church has sent me a copy of the annual Easter Message from Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori. It’s 383 words long, in eight paragraphs.

Not once in this message has the Presiding Bishop seen fit to mention the name of Jesus Christ.

Oh, she drops hints that Easter maybe sort of, kind of, have something to do with Jesus. In the next-to-last paragraph she says, “I would encourage you to look at where you are finding new life and resurrection, where life abundant and love incarnate are springing up in your lives and the lives of your communities.” It is just conceivable that this could be a roundabout approach to Jesus—albeit an approach that never quite gets there. And she concludes, “Give thanks for Easter. Give thanks for Resurrection. Give thanks for the presence of God incarnate in our midst.” God makes it into the very last line of the message.”

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