“He is Risen Indeed”
I’m not a Catholic, but there’s nothing quite like Easter Mass.
For hours, days really, you have waited in mourning and reflection. Remembering the crucifixion. Remembering Christ’s sufferings. Remembering that it was your sin that put him there. Mourning the death that he suffered. And, most importantly, waiting.
Then, in an explosion of thanksgiving and joy, the lights go on, and the praise begins. The hallelujahs return. All the mourning and reflection give way to the hope of resurrection. The atonement gives way to new life.
The waiting is over. He is risen. He is risen, indeed.
Unlike Christmas, popular traditions have never been able to crowd out the central meaning of Easter. Yes, there is an Easter Bunny. Yes, there are painted eggs and Easter egg hunts. But none hold the cultural power of Santa Claus, presents, and Christmas trees. Nothing sticks to Resurrection Sunday in the same way.
Maybe it is that Easter comes at the end of Lent and Holy Week. Certainly, if you have spent a month preparing yourself for the celebration of Easter, of Christ rising from the dead, then it would be easy to focus, to hone in on what matters. And Holy Week brings us back again and again to that fateful morning. Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday – oh, what a powerful day! – all pointing, all drawing us toward Easter.
But I have to believe it is more than just that. It’s more than reminders and full holiday schedules. It’s more than being almost the only lunar holiday in otherwise solar cultures.
It is that the story of Easter is so profound, so remarkable, so joyous and life giving, that it brooks no rivals, suffers no diminishment, and thus stands apart. Easter proclaims that Jesus Christ, God’s own son, after coming into this world completed his work of atonement on the cross, and after 3 days in the grave rose again in victory over sin and death. And it is that sacrifice and new life which he offers to us – a gift beyond measure, mercy beyond hope, grace beyond belief.
He is risen. He is risen, indeed.