Living on this side of Easter

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by Adam Thomas

How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord. How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and man is reconciled to God. (Excerpt from The Exsulet)

These words from the Exsultet capture for me the definitive turning point that is Easter. And they remind me of a special phrase I hear now and again, which I love: “On this Side of Easter.” I might say that, before April 5th this year, we were on the Good Friday side of Easter – at least by the yearly calendar. But in reality, we always exist fully on the other side (or “this”) side of Easter. The event that happened on what we now call Easter morning is the hinge point of history. It is the moment we believe changed everything. The tricky thing, though, about talking about the event as a “moment” in history is that such talk makes the event much smaller than it is. Yes, there was a time when Jesus’ dead body was in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph and Nicodemus put his body there. When Mary Magdalene went to check on Jesus’ body after the Sabbath, it was gone, and Mary stood face to face with her Risen Lord.

But the Resurrection, while we can pinpoint a moment in time for its occurrence, rewrites the rules of cause and effect such that the impact of the Resurrection cascades both forward and backward in time. I think this happens because the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the moment when the eternity of God and the transience of creation finally and inextricably meet. The Resurrection enlivens all that is good in creation, infusing such goodness with the legacy of the eternal. Everything else – all that seeks to drive creation towards annihilation rather than eternity – dies again and again and again. A thousand deaths. A million. It is still dying today.

But we, and all the goodness of creation that Christ redeems, live. We live once because one life is all we need when that life is eternal. We live on this side of Easter, but because of Christ’s Resurrection, this side of Easter is the only one.

Where do you see this side of Easter being fulfilled in this world? Where do you see the “everything else” dying its millionth death today? How do you make it clear in your life that live on this side of Easter?

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