Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Where are the deviled eggs…
March 27, 2016
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
-from the Gospel of Luke
In the deep south, Easter needs two things to be properly celebrated: the Risen Lord and deviled eggs. Trust me, if you’re celebrating Easter in the south, you’ll see at least one plate of them at the Easter reception. And if you’re really all in for Easter, the deviled eggs will be nestled on a deviled egg plate.
I can still hear my great-aunt, as we made deviled eggs on Holy Saturday years ago. “They aren’t deviled eggs…they are dressed eggs. After all, we’re eating them in church.” I can still remember my grandmother boiling 14 eggs instead of 12, because at least two of the eggs wouldn’t peel right and we couldn’t use them and after all, they needed to look perfect for Easter and we needed two dozen perfect eggs. I still remember the discussions over sweet deviled eggs versus savory deviled eggs.
I still feel all the love and crazy that is my family.
And on this day, on Easter, I hear again the truth that love and life overcome death. I hear again we are not made for being scattered like lost sheep, but for being gathered and embraced as the children of God. I hear again the song we make even at our grave: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! I feel – again – the depths of love Christ has for humanity.
On this day of Easter, we gather to experience the truth of Christ’s love for us, a love so powerful and strong it walked through death to life and called us all by name into Love’s great embrace.
After the beautiful and joyful services of Easter Day are done, I wander back into the church in the late afternoon. The shadows illuminate the depths of the corners of the church. The space that has embraced so beautifully all the moments of Holy Week now rests. The smell of incense is still present. The flowered cross decorated by the children is beautifully askew. Random service bulletins are scattered in pews. This space is quiet, and it is changed.
I light the Paschal Candle. It’s so new right now, so perfect. I wonder about the moments its light will accompany in the coming months. Baptisms for those entering into new life in Christ, marriages for those entering into new life with each other, burials for those entering into resurrected life in Christ. For the Great Fifty Days it will light our Holy Meals.
On this day, on the day of Resurrection, the evening reading is of Jesus revealing himself, then eating. Jesus nourishes us, fills us, comes to us when we are gathered at Table. His light illumines our Holy Meals and our common life. He makes the ordinary moments of our lives extraordinary moments of love with his very real-ness.
This resurrected Jesus is not a fleeting image or a ghost, but a tangible and real person. He eats, as if to prove his point. I feel certain he’d enjoy some savory deviled eggs.
And we encounter him not only through thoughts and discussion, but also through our tangible encounters. We encounter our Resurrected Lord when we meet another in the bonds of forgiveness. We encounter him as we hold the hands of those who are dying, as we feel our tears and know deeply we will join them again in resurrected life. We meet the Risen Lord on the roads of our lives, the ones that wander into people who challenge us and change us.
Jesus is not an ethereal figment, bending and shifting to our projections, but a very real incarnation of Love. We hold him in the Body and Blood in our hands and he holds us in his nail scarred ones. Jesus moves out of our thoughts and feelings right into our very real lives.
Easter is not a nice idea. It is a very real event with a very alive Lord who calls us to change, to love, and to proclaim.
I touch the Paschal Candle once more, a tangible moment of the Light of Christ. In this space, in this moment, in this Jesus, I feel overwhelmed by the love of the ages that has and will continue to change me.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed.
What are some very real ways you have encountered Christ? What changes is Christ calling you to make in your life now that involve action, doing, and sacrifice?
I encountered Christ this afternoon when I visited a friend who is battling cancer. She has had treatment for one type of cancer and is now receiving treatment for a different type. She is home from the hospital and still in pain, but we talked and laughed and I read the lectionary for the Saturday before Easter, not the Easter Vigil liturgy. We responded to each selection and I teared up at Lamentations 3:22-23. My friend has lost so much weight and her skin is almost translucent, but she is so full of the love of Christ and it is so evident that He is sustaining her. She almost glowed as she told me about the social worker’s visit and how this person had shared that her sister was a Christian. She said this more than once, and while my friend’s husband walked with her to her car, he asked if she would like to be a Christian and accept Jesus as her savior. She said, “Yes, she would very much like to do this”, and she did! I was so moved by this encounter and I know that my friend’s presence in the “thin place” between earth and heaven has opened this beautiful conduit to God.
Even though I converted to the Episcopal Church when I was in my mid-twenties, I was raised a Baptist. My mother used to weep whenever anyone would come forward at the altar call to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. My sister, brother and I used to kid her that she would cry if a total stranger went forward to accept the Lord. And I think she would have! Seeing someone coming into the Kingdom moved her deeply.
So beautiful! This makes my heart soar.
What a fabulous reflection. A special gift on a special day. Thank you.
A wonderful gift to start the Easter journey! Thank you.