An Easter Message from Bishop Macholz

In a Family Circle cartoon two children are shown sitting at talking about their Easter baskets they have searched for and found. The young boy asks his sister, “Who colored all of the Easter eggs?”  to which the sister replied, “The Easter Bunny.” 

“And the chocolate rabbit?”

”The Easter Bunny” she replied.

Apparently there was nothing beyond the reach of the good old Easter Bunny.  Shortly thereafter the family headed off to church and during the sermon the pastor said, “They came to the tomb and saw the stone rolled away. Who could have done this?”

At that moment, young Jeffrey stood up on the pew and said, “I know, the Easter Bunny!”

Do you see how rumors can get started?  I think rabbits, as long as they belong to someone else, are as cute as the dickens, but can you see where this might be headed?  I am truly not into conspiracy theories but might we look back in 20 or 30 years and wonder how the resurrection was co-opted by a bunny and consumerism?  It’s all about what sells.

For example, I went to BJ’s Wholesale Club and thought I would be smart and get a head start on Easter cards. I always forget them until the last minute so this would put me well ahead of the game.  I figured BJ’s would have tons of them, and tons they did. I estimated as I stood there looking over the selection that there were over 120 categories from which to choose, including Wife, Husband, Daughter, Son, Grandmother, Grandfather, Grandson, Granddaughter and more. There were humorous Easter cards, serious cards and even romantic Easter cards. Now, I’m as much a romantic as the next person but I never would have put Easter and Romantic in the same category.  Then I noticed something really, really strange.  There were six, count them, six, different cards for Easter that fell under the heading of, are you ready for this? RELIGIOUS!!!

I could be wrong, but I thought Easter was about “religious”. Here’s what the card that was the most religious, said:  “He speaks and the birds have voice. He smiles and the sun has warmth. He loves and the earth has life.”  When the card is opened it says: Wishing you the real gifts of the Easter season.

I don’t often do exegesis on Easter cards but this one fascinated me so that I bought it, as you can tell.  Who is he?  And, are these the real gifts of Easter? Birds that sing, a sun that offers warmth and an earth that has life?  I might grant you that the “he” is God or Jesus but you would be hard pressed to convince me that the real gifts of Easter are those mentioned in the card.  When the going gets tough, when illness sets in, when relationships are shattered, when death overshadows life, will these gifts offer you the strength and hope that you need?  I think not.

So, you’re saying to yourselves right now, if Easter isn’t about bunnies and singing birdies and warm sun, what is it about.

I’m glad you asked.

Easter is about the power of God in the midst of what seems like our powerlessness. It is about hope in the midst of despair. It’s about life in the midst of death. Easter is about seeing through our tears and discovering new life and joy.

Mary went back to the tomb that morning and while weeping and still unbelieving asked the supposed gardener where he had placed Jesus’ body.  Life was about to change for her, for in that instant, in the naming of her name, Mary came face to face with the risen Christ who had been raised by the power of God. In Christ’s recognition of her, Mary recognized her hope and her savior and life for her would never be the same again. She would become the first witness in John’s Gospel to the risen Christ, no small feat in a time and place where women took the back seat. 

What is Easter about? It is about the power of God to overcome the darkness of death.  It is about hope in the midst of hopelessness. It shouts of the fact that even though everything seems to be falling apart, despair seems to reign and the future is bleak God has the last word. Easter is about Jesus, first, last and always.

Jesus, who healed the sick. Jesus, who gave sight to the blind. Jesus, who drove out demons. Jesus, who fed the hungry. Jesus, who walked on water. Jesus, who raised the dead. This Jesus who did all of this and more is the one we meet in the garden in this early morning hour in John’s Gospel. He is the one who fulfilled the will of the Father, who submitted to death, even death on a cross, and who brings hope even into the midst of our darkest nights. 

Easter is about his resurrection and it is about ours as well. As the stone was rolled away from the tomb so death is rolled away from our lives as the final answer of life for God has power over life and over death.  That is our good news. No matter what the world throws at us, no matter who the powers and principalities are that we encounter, no matter where we find ourselves at this moment in time, the Risen Lord is present. In bread and wine. In word and song. In life and in death.

Listen carefully people of God, Christ is risen. Life is changed. Hope is renewed. You are set free.  That is power. That is life. That is Easter. Amen.

Katherine Neugent