Wrestling with Easter

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-by Rachel Jones


This portion of Leviticus, which tells us all about the details involved in celebrating the Day of Atonement.

…and this little bit of Matthew:
“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
Putting the instructions for observing the Day of Atonement right next to Jesus’ instructions for how to pray is kind of a study in extremes, much like the juxtaposition of Good Friday and Easter. I struggle with how to think about atonement, much the way I struggle with Good Friday. And I struggle with giving myself wholly over to the words of the Lord’s Prayer and the miracle of Easter. Mostly, I probably think too much about them, rather than simply accepting them as the profoundly mysterious gifts that they are.
Why do things have to be this way? Why are we so bent on being hateful and mean to each other, such that the meanness and hate sticks to us in layers of mistrust and overthinking and over-explaining and over-functioning that we make it almost impossible to be in right relationship with God? Why is it so hard to let go of our concepts of power and glory? Why is it so hard to put them rightly in at the feet of God, and not safely clutched in our own sweaty hands? I have so many questions.
So. Many.
And the ones I’ve written here barely scratch the surface of the things I wonder about us and God. But I never wonder about God’s goodness, even when I read all the hard and scary stories in the Old Testament. Sometimes I feel like God has a strange way of revealing goodness to us, because so often, there is a lot of medicine to swallow, and precious little sugar to help it go down. Which brings me to Easter.
Easter is the sweetest of the sweet, ending any pretense we ever fooled ourselves into believing about actually being able to atone for the ugly things we do, have done, and continue to do to each other. God understands that we cannot begin to fathom how to make that calculus work–to return ourselves to God, when we are the only ones who’ve been doing the moving. God understands that we will try our best to understand instructions, but also have a deep genius for getting in our own way.
In the miracle of Easter, beginning with Good Friday and culminating in that dewey Sunday morning light, God does the unthinkable, the unbelievable, the un-doable, right in front of us, and tears the curtain that separated us from our own sin and God’s forgiveness. And it makes no sense at all, on this side of Heaven. And it won’t make sense to us until we know as we are fully known. And I am so grateful for that, because it means that there are questions that will lay in the bottom of my heart for the rest of my time here, and that’s ok–I should not expect to learn their answers. Living into the answer, knowing that it waits for me in the heart of Jesus, the place where I am trying to go, seems to me like the only way to move from all my earthly Good Friday questions into the heavenly answers of Easter. Thanks be to God for that.
How do you wrestle with Easter? What have you learned this season by reading along with 50 Days? Let us know what’s on your mind by tagging your tweets and comments with #50daysEaster and #wrestlingwithEaster.
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