Sunday, April 11, 2010

God, Life and Everything - Now What?

I write a column called "God, Life, and Everything" for the Hudson Valley News. The title reflects the broad scope I want to take. Everything in life falls under the eye of God, and if we watch carefully, we can catch a glimpse of God in it all.

Happy Easter! Find your eggs? Your chocolate? Your basket?

If you are one who For the faithful, did you go to church Easter morning and celebrate the resurrection? Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Now what?

Seriously, and forget about the eggs and chocolate – a little mayo and mustard makes lovely deviled eggs, and no chocolate lasts more than fifteen minutes in our house, so problem solved.

Now, what about the resurrection part? For many Christians, Easter is not just a day but a season, fifty days long. That’s the number of days Jesus walked the earth after rising from death. In those days, he taught the disciples his final lessons before sending them out to their respective destinies.

So in these fifty days of Easter, what instruction can we take? What destinies – or missions if you will – can we imagine for ourselves? What do we do with this risen Christ?

First of all, I think we can rest a little. Every pastor I know is breathing a collective sigh of relief that the manic pace of Holy Week and the hoopla of Easter morning are over. It’s kind of like the cast of a play after closing night. Job well done and rest well deserved.

Beyond that, rest in the risen Christ makes sense. As Christians, we rest in the knowledge that God really does love us, that nothing we do can make God stop loving us, and that Christ’s example shows us how death is merely a doorway through which we pass on our way to something more.

But you can’t just rest all your life. Aside from being boring, that would make a mockery of the gift. I used to play pickup hockey with some friends, and even though we kept score for most of the game, near the end someone would shout “All tied up!” – from that point on no score was kept, it was endless 0 - 0.

You might think that defeated the point of the game, but I think in those final minutes, players showed more creativity, used more energy and had more fun than in the rest of the game. Why? Because you weren’t penalized for messing up, so you could go out on a limb.

That’s how I see the resurrection. Now that we know the end of our story – we live, we die, we receive eternal life enjoying God’s love – we are free to experiment with that love. We can see what it’s like to forgive, to get out of our comfort zone and reach out to people who are not like us. We can play with new ways of healing broken relationships and broken justice systems. We can do it on a personal level and on a societal level.

That’s the gift of Easter – we can boldly go about trying to share God’s love knowing that if we screw up, nobody’s keeping score.

So, what do we do now that the resurrection has taken place? Rest, then Play!