We're all at various stages of trying to make sense of Easter.
Emma and I went on a picnic date to her school playground this morning. We had imagined that it would be cool and quiet, sunny and breezy. What we didn't imagine was a city "Easter" event in the park next door, complete with costumed characters, loud music, and crowds pushing strollers. Emma (age 6) was disappointed not to be able to hear the birds singing, and she confessed to me that she did not like the music because it wasn't worship music (I was inclined to agree ... Madonna's 'Material Girl' was not my idea of Easter music). Later this evening on our way to church (where an Easter Egg hunt was planned for the kids) Emma was still trying to make sense of the way our culture celebrates Easter. Her musings went something like this: "Easter has nothing to do with bunnies or eggs, but eggs are a little like Jesus, because he went off by himself in the garden to pray. Not many people knew about it. He hid away just like the eggs." A valiant effort, I'd say! I'm afraid I can't think of a better way to connect the two, unless we want to talk about eggs as a sign of fertility . . . and God's promises of a lush new creation (?!).
And what does Easter look like from an 11-year-old's vantage point? The kids visited Awana (a kids Bible club) on Wednesday evening, and Eliana came back jazzed about the message the leader gave about the atonement. "It was so deep," she told us. "I mean, I didn't agree with everything he said, but he really made me think." She's so ready for a challenge, and has great theological questions.
Don't we all? Wherever we are in our spiritual journeys, each of us is trying to make sense of Jesus at some level. How can he be both man and God? If he's God, then why does he still need to pray? Was his death inevitable? Did he really rise from the dead? Pastor Ray's message this evening went straight to the heart of the matter. "All of us have doubts at some level," he said. "But salvation doesn't come to us when we finally understand it all. Salvation comes when we grab hold of him." You may doubt whether he can hold you, but you won't know if he can until you throw yourself into his arms.
Christianity doesn't claim to resolve all mysteries on this side of eternity. To some extent, we all need to embrace the mystery, not because Christianity lacks historical reality or absolute truth, but because our ability to assimilate that truth will never be complete in this life.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
making sense of Easter
Dr. Carmen Imes is the Associate Professor of Old Testament at Prairie College in Three Hills, Alberta, and serves the broader church through teaching, speaking, and writing. She earned a PhD in Biblical Theology (Old Testament) from Wheaton College under Dr. Daniel Block, an MA in Biblical Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a BA in Bible and Theology from Multnomah University. She and her husband, Danny, served as missionaries with SIM 15 years. They have three children: Ana, Emma, and Easton.