Trouble with Easter
Once again, it’s me, Deanna. I’m here this week to bring you a filler post and all the joys (and hatred) of Easter.
I have trouble with Easter, and my trouble with it is mostly because I have difficulty finding meaning in it without regurgitating the entire manual of Christian idioms and vernacular I learned as a child. All of the natural, knee-jerk phrases I would use to talk about Resurrection Sunday all consist of things that I now hear myself say and think What does that even mean? I was hard-wired to recite and understand events like these like the story of Hanzel and Gretel. And I mean that not so much in the sense that reduces Easter to just a story, but more in the sense that if any seven-year-old at a modern evangelical church were asked to retell either story, both are automatic, integrated stories that can be recited at any moment’s notice.
For family reading, stop panicking that I’ve backslidden (another nicely packaged word with a bow on top that is not heard in any other normal situation) and listen to what I’m saying.
I need Easter to be fresh. I don’t want to reduce or downgrade the potency of its meaning; I don’t want that to go away. I just want to find meaning and an understanding that doesn’t involve a communal feeding on verbal vomit that’s brought back up the Church’s throat every year in April. I no longer can glean meaning out of what I’ve been fed all my life. I can’t sit through another church service and hear the pastor with his happy smile, arms lifted hear him say “He is risen!” and we, as the lovely congregation repeat back “He is risen, indeed!” Don’t misunderstand me, I mean nothing against churches that do that. I just need to understand the exact implications it has on my life. Because as far as I see, it doesn’t mean anything other than a new dress, an ungodly (pun intended, shut up) early church service, brunches, cantatas and lots of irritating Easter basket grass.
Well, it means that he has conquered death! Yes, but what does that mean? It’s great, I appreciate it, but if this holiday is so huge and so integral to the Christian faith, how exactly is my life suppose to change because of this? What does it mean for me, Deanna, in Michigan on April 8th, 2010 to live as if “death has been conquered”? We no longer have to fear death because Christ has be victorious! Once again, what does that mean? When I wake up tomorrow at exactly 7:45am, how should my life be different because of that fact? Because right now it doesn’t. And at least, it doesn’t in most people’s lives that I know. So why is this holiday like a lesser cousin to Christmas for the church?
It’s just a too well packaged, too concise a holiday full of over-arching phrases that have lost their deeply practical meanings. I now am in a place in my life where I have to step away and approach this all from a different angle to even keep it around.
Maybe this is exactly what people mean when they say “Christmas is dead.” It’s not so much that other people (or things) killed it (because if I hear ONE more person say that commercialism killed Christmas, I will probably snap), it’s that it’s lost all meaning in and of itself and it’s lying there on the ground, and all that’s left to say is “I either need to give this holiday a funeral, or take time to find true meaning in it.”
The night before Easter, my husband and I ate dinner over at my family’s house, which was wonderful. There was wonderful food, lots of laughing, and a few Office episodes squeezed in. It was warm, sweet, and what I hope to be doing every Easter. Sunday morning we (surprise!) slept in, went to see Clash of the Titans (because we all know that Easter is not properly celebrated without a Greek mythology 3D action flick), and then went over to Drew’s house to enjoy the new Rob Bell video (happy lights?) and delicious food with his folks and our small semblance of a house church.
We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary to celebrate Easter. We just talked about the video for a few minutes, and then went upstairs and spent the next 7 hours just talking.
This is what I desperately need in my life. No amount of new dresses, annoying white sandals, or Easter cantatas can deliver, for me personally, what I need on Easter or in the rest of my life. I don’t need formality, I don’t want gospel songs (GASP!). I need connection, sounding boards, people to laugh with and people who (I am resisting the urge to say “edify” because no one really knows what that means) challenge my own thoughts and ideas. While most of the conversation was talking about the French Connection UK brand of clothing, griping about Flash and how we can’t wait for HTML5, Keisha lyrics, and all things pop culture, we often have conversations that last late into the night about All the Things That Matter. We sit around watching movies and end up in mind-blowing conversations about point of views, the rifts between political parties, the reason Detroit is dying and how it should change, religion and what it means in our lives, etc.
All of it is meaningful, and I am a better person every time I leave those conversations.
If traditional Easter services work for you, great. But they don’t do it for me anymore. They’ve become devoid of meaning because I’m jaded and because I harbor cynicism that’s crept into my life over the last couple of years. I had to find a different way to see Jesus this year. I had to find Him in the people around me and in the community of close friends that I call home. And even in all my pessimism and irritation with my perception of the church, He still showed up. And that, is what I desperately needed to know on Easter this year.
Here’s to finding what you need, and here’s to looking at Easter in a new way.
So, Happy Easter. Or for those of you who hate cantatas, Happy Zombie Jesus Day!