Gospel Reading for Easter Sunday (Year C)
Jim and Liam (and Anyone Else Who Reads This),
The world is a broken place. I don't think you really know this. You know that you don't always get your way. You know that you sometimes get put in time out or don't get to pick what we watch on TV. But you don't know about the brokenness. Not yet.
Part of that falls on me. I've protected you from it. You don't yet know that Batman's parents were killed when he was a boy. For the dozens of times you have watched Finding Nemo, you have never seen the first scene. I wonder sometimes if I'm doing you a disservice by shielding you. But I realize that these are ultimately superficial things. I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to prolong your innocence of the brokenness because it comes for us all eventually.
I am writing this on Holy Saturday. It's the day before we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Perhaps that is why I am meditating on the messed up nature of things. This was a dark day. That's the funny thing about Easter. It's a two-sided coin. One side is the pitch darkness of death, betrayal, hatred, abandonment, and loss and the other side is the blinding light that makes all of that work backwards. You can't have one without the other.
Before we can make it to the dawn, we have to live with the fact that everything is broken. The death of Jesus proved that. His government—an institution that is ostensibly supposed to provide protection—allowed him to be falsely accused, arrested, and executed. His religious community—which is supposed to be city on a hill, a safe place of connection with God and our fellow humans—turned on him for, among other things, believing the wrong things. His surrogate family abandoned him in his greatest hour of need.
Everything was broken. Shattered. The greatest good that ever walked the face of the earth walked into the heart of that brokenness and was destroyed. We killed him. And I hate to write this to you because I desperately wish it to be untrue.
The brokenness persists. Human institutions wound people all of the time. Even our churches. At this time of year, our Christian churches give off the air that we have all the answers; that we are the ones fully resurrected in a Land of Death. Yet even today, I heard the story of someone I love dearly who was hurt by Christians who were trying to get him to come to church. It made me want to get on the interstate, drive to that sanctuary, and flip over their table. But I'm guilty of the brokenness as well. All your loved ones are, boys. We are going to try our hardest not to let our brokenness touch you, but it will happen. And I am sorry.
Of course, you are broken too. As wonderful and beautiful you boys are, you are not unscathed. The atmosphere is too thick with our collective decay.
Oh, but here comes the sun. Because you two are wonderful and beautiful and because God sees that in each shattered soul that has ever walked this earth, Jesus entered into that willingly. He went into the belly of the beast and he slayed the dragon by bringing life. Resurrection. Life where there should not be any.
And you can see him heal the things that were broken. You see it throughout his whole time on earth. Not only in how he physically healed people, but in the way that he stitched people on the margins—women, children, Gentiles, poor, unclean, sinful—back into the community. The way in which he salvaged relationships with that surrogate family that abandoned him.
He didn't do this by magic. It seems to work its way organically. I said that things are still broken and that is true. But things are healing also. It is slow, often painfully glacial. But Jesus is healing us even as we open up new wounds. This I must believe and I cling to it with all I have. I hope I do a good job one day of conveying that to you.
The resurrection is something that happened in the past but it is also a reminder of the future. Jesus healed. Jesus is healing. Jesus will heal. The brokenness that permeates this world will not have the last word. The broken places will be made whole. All because God loves each of us—everyone—more than you or I could ever imagine. Yes, my sons, things are broken. But things will heal. They already are. I hope you read this one day. I hope it makes sense.
Holy Saturday 2016