A Community within Communities: EASTER!Bonnets,Bows,Bunnies,and Abundance!
Easter Carol by Christina Rosetti
Spring bursts to-day, For Christ is risen and all the earth’s at play.
Flash forth, thou Sun, The rain is over and gone, its work is done.
Winter is past, Sweet Spring is come at last, is come at last.
Bud, Fig and Vine, Bud, Olive, fat with fruit and oil and wine.
Break forth this morn In roses, thou but yesterday a Thorn.
Uplift thy head, O pure white Lily through the Winter dead.
Beside your dams Leap and rejoice, you merry-making Lambs.
All Herds and Flocks Rejoice, all Beasts of thickets and of rocks.
Sing, Creatures, sing, Angels and Men and Birds and everything.
All notes of Doves Fill all our world: this is the time of loves.
Easter, it breaks the back of winter and with it throughout all religion it speaks of an awakening after a great sleep and slumber. It is the time of bonnets, bows, about Easter Parades, and of course, bunnies; soft cuddly bunnies. Were it that religion were soft and cuddly like bunnies. Were it that religion was all about bows and bonnets. Were it that religion was always positive and never negative.
A young man came to me recently. He lives in bayou country. It is all he has known; that culture, that beautiful bayou. He hunts, he fishes, and he plays music. He travels to the city to play his music. Once he was the traditional faith of his fathers and heard the mass. Then he followed a path into the church of the deep-south. He heard the conversation about love. The preaching was strong and choirs grand. A leader in his church said love the sinner but hate the sin. It is an abomination to offend God’s law! That abomination would send “them” to Hell by the God of judgment. That homosexual at the college had to be expelled – it is an offense against God. They said that the Bible told them so.
This young man stammered and stuttered and looked around the room. He explained and explained and explained. His explanations seemed to circle themselves like a knot being tied; tighter and tighter without a discernible end. He looked up and asked, “Is suicide a sin?” He explained and explained and explained without end or point. Is suicide a sin? I responded but briefly with trepidation having lost my own daughter to suicide; the unspoken death. And he explained and explained and glanced about the room. He came from the bayou; he went to church; he was good and he explained. No, suicide is not a sin as such; for suicide is from a soul that is sad and sick and at odds with one’s own nature. A true and loving God does not condemn such illness; even desperation and profound sadness but rather weeps when he witnesses such profound sorrow. At that hour and that moment this young man was not there yet – he was searching rather than ending.
Then gently, like the stone of the tomb being set aside, he looked up, “I have never said this to any other human being…I am gay and always have been.” He explained and explained and explained that he had never acted on his orientation. He stayed in the closet. But when he heard the hatred that spewed forth by the leader of his church his inner voice said, “It is me he hates.” He was changed, those words were his crucifixion. He began to gently weep. This week was Good Friday, his crucifixion and Easter his resurrection. He was seeking and he found the truth about Easter.
I pointed out that the real truth of Jesus is found in the Gospels. That the real truth about Jesus was not found or bound in hatred but in love. That Jesus was clear and specific about his judgment. He judges hatred, he judges greed, he judges those that take instead of give, those that cast out instead of inviting in; he does judge but he judges hated and harm. This young man discovered Easter that afternoon. Resurrection is coming through hatred and pain and hurt to find love and life and living. This young man is still searching. Then, after our meeting, he wanted to see our church. We walked into the quiet church and he wept again. These tears were the tears of a loving God; tears of thankfulness for being made whole through Christ; he said, “The burden is gone and I feel so good.” I suspect that it was the first time, in a real way that he felt good about himself.
So, it is Easter. It is for Christians the day of renewal, new life, wholeness, rebirth, and for some, finding the real “me.” The real “me” is loved and has a place on heaven and on earth. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 Jesus also said, and this is His law, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” The Gospel according to Matthew. So to this young man who came out of the darkness and into the light – love, love large, and know that you are loved. To those of dark skin who despise the color of their skin – come into the light and love and love large and know that you are loved. To the poor, you are loved and indeed specially loved. To those who are new to our country and community – Jesus demands hospitality – you are loved. It is indeed Easter. No, it is not a bunny faith, doesn’t wear bonnets, it abides deeply and it is profound. It is love; love thyself and love thy neighbor. Rejoice, the Lord is risen, the Lord is risen indeed…and so are we.