Jesus is still risen, and for that we say “alleluia.” Some doubt, disbelief, may be seeping into our minds about the glorious nature of our risen Lord. The sun is shining, spring continues to burst forth with beautiful flowers, an abundance of growth, and chirping birds. But we cannot quite hold onto the glory that was Easter day. Easter season, you say? Well … Easter is dimming in our sophisticated hearts. We saw some clouds the other day, what’s growing in my yard is an overabundance of weeds, the birds are driving me crazy, and the pollen, well, the pollen is wreaking havoc with my sinuses and with every surface in my house. We simply must keep the windows closed …. The joy of Easter has dimmed ….
As we asked on Maundy Thursday we ask again in Easter: what we are doing? For some reason, we cannot allow ourselves to remain in that glorious joy of Easter. We make such joy a memory rather than a way of life. We portion the purity of spirit that burst into our lives and try to channel it into something we can manage, control. We take the empty tomb and try to make it fit into our lives in some logical way, as if our Lord’s resurrection could be understood, confined, somehow, within our minds. What are we doing? A Jesuit brother finds words for what we are doing: we are burying Jesus. We are burying Jesus. But hear this from Brother Almquist:
“Wherever we bury Jesus, he comes back to life. We can bury him in the Bible or in stained glass windows. We can bury him in creeds and formulas and the heritage of our own tradition. We can bury him in movies and plays and music. We can bury him in our past. We can even bury him in bread and wine. And each time from each place he rises from the dead. He sheds the words and images and walks right on out into the world.” (Br. Curtis Almquist, SSJE)
Jesus never did live up to our rules about life and about who and what a Messiah is. Jesus entered our consciousness as vulnerable humanity – a baby! – at a time when infant mortality was common. Jesus lived. Jesus came to us as a teacher, showing knowledge and learning far beyond his years. Jesus came to us as a mockery of a ruler, riding into Jerusalem NOT in mighty, war-won splendor, but on a donkey …. We hailed him, then mocked him, taunted him while he died on a cross of our making. Throughout his earthly life, Jesus turned our lives and our expectations upside down. We did not succeed in burying Him.
Our good news today is that we, actually, cannot bury Jesus. We who killed him cannot keep him dead, cannot keep him in the confines of our rules and our expectations. Jesus is risen! Jesus lives!
Do you hear it? “He sheds the words and images and walks right on out into the world.”
An ancient man named Erasmus brought this truth to light: “Bidden or unbidden, God is present.” God is present in God’s Son and we can never bury Him. God is present. Maybe we let the joy of Easter dim because daily life drags us down. We allow our troubles and our battles to overshadow our joy. We never could bury Jesus, and we simply do not know what to do with this Savior who continues to turn our world upside down.
Consider this bit of poetry from Philip Chircop:
“Bidden or unbidden, God is present as heartbeat, as breath, as sunrise and sunset, as sustaining and suffering love, as dear friend rejected or embraced … God is present.
Bidden or unbidden, God is present as a people created from the dust who wrestle with reality and tell stories of their struggles. God is present.”
We are a story telling people. We tell about a time in a garden, when we walked with God and disobeyed Him. We tell stories about walking with God in the wilderness. We wanted to abandon our journey, go back to slavery. We wanted to abandon God, but God did not abandon us. We tell stories about kings and wars and trials and our sorrows. We tell stories about an infant who lived, who drove out demons, who fed many with food enough for only a few. We are a story telling people. We never could bury Jesus.
Christianity, you see, refused to be a secret. It was always a public proclamation (Christopher Bryan). So what do we do with the Jesus who will not be buried, who walks right on out into the world?
We tell the story. We hold onto this Jesus as tightly as he holds on to us, not to tame Him or bury Him or to mold Him into our desires, but to allow Him to completely overturn and take over our lives. We let what will not be buried live, in our hearts, in our minds, in our souls. And we tell the story, the story that Jesus was, is, and ever will be our Lord and our Savior.