Sunday, April 20, 2014

Thoughts on Easter, 2014

I'm not a literalist when it comes to understanding the Bible and New Testament, but that doesn't mean they are not awe inspiring to me.  Quite the opposite... the mystery inspires more awe and curiosity in me, in anticipation to what I hope will be a complete understanding, revealed someday.

There are several events surrounding the sacrificial crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of Christ that particularly inspire me. My dear friend, Lena Monson, a devout Mormon, enlightened me to one of those events.  She said, about the notion of Christ dying in such a tormented and yet selfless manner, in sacrifice for all of humanity, whether that humanity followed and believed in him or not:

“Imagine yourself on the cross, the most innocent person to ever walk the earth, being tortured in such a hideous manner, yet still praying that God forgive your violators.  That alone is horrible enough and the selflessness of that surrender is indescribably beautiful.  Now imagine, at the instantaneous moment of your death and ascendance to heaven, feeling the pain and suffering of every sin ever committed by every human being, past and future, from a minor lie and theft, to the suffering of the Holocaust.  Every sin ever committed, past and future, falling upon you to experience in the flash of a moment.  That was the burden that Christ experienced on the cross and, more importantly, that he knew he was going to experience but never turned from that accountability.”

Imagine and contemplate that level of selfless sacrifice.  If you can’t be moved by that thought, nothing can move you.

Another event about Christ’s death and resurrection that mystifies me is also one of the few things that each of the four Gospels agrees upon pretty clearly—when Christ resurrected, he appeared first to women, not his male apostles.  Of all the defining events of Christianity, the Resurrection is probably the most defining.  The Resurrection is a very, very important event.  Given the rather paternalistic theme of the Bible and New Testament, it is fascinating to me that the most defining moment of Christianity was reserved for first witness by women, notably Mary Magdalene.  Christ’s male apostles sit second chair to the most impressive human event, ever.  Lots of innocent humans were crucified, but only one human has ever come back from the dead (ignoring Lazarus for a moment) and the front row witnesses to that event were women.  I believe there is significance to that witness, which we do not fully understand, especially given the worldwide oppression and violation that consistently befalls women and girls.  In the honor of being the first to witness Christ’s resurrection I believe that there is a message to women—live with confidence and personal accountability because you were honored with one of the most important events, if not the most important event, in human history.  You will be and should be in the front row of all events.  Anna Elizabeth, our beautiful and new baby, I hope you read and remember this throughout your life: Despite what men prefer to think of themselves-- let them go about their charades-- women are the Chosen Ones. 

“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One. I was dead and behold I am alive forever and ever. And I hold the keys to death and Hades.”

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