To Celebrate Easter is Crazy!

Here is a fragment of my reflection from the evening Easter service of my ecumenical congregation, the Kritische Gemeente IJmond. The theme of the service was “To live as never before.”

The difficult truth about the Judeo-Christian tradition is that it questions everything we see as trustworthy, rational, normal. It’s abnormal! The Pharaohs of this world don’t10265597_685589688167792_4764716156748951771_o allow for their slaves to be so easily taken from them (think about Putin, for example!). Poor roaming preachers like Jesus usually don’t change the course of history. Rather, they end up in the dustbin of history and are forgotten. This is what this world is like, and everyone who sees it otherwise hasn’t, apparently, grown up yet. And we shouldn’t think that we can make anything easier by changing the literal approach to the Paschal stories to one more metaphorical or “spiritual”. The idea that Jesus lives forth in his disciples and followers is actually equally problematic as the vision of the open, empty tomb. It only seems a little less shocking, a little easier to comprehend…

But Easter is about incongruence. Easter is a breakthrough, exodus from the world as it is, the adult world, where one incessantly estimates probability and tries to properly asses consequences. Easter is a call to build upon the least probable, least trustworthy, weakest foundation. A foundation that cannot be described otherwise than by statements that are pure absurd from the logical point of view. It was excellently put by the ancient theologian Tertullian: “I believe because it is absurd.” Easter means exodus. Exodus from reality that can be predicted. From reality that can be shaped to one’s liking if only one has enough power. To celebrate Easter is crazy. It means embracing visions of which we know that they don’t come true. Departing on a journey while knowing that we won’t achieve our goal.  Challenging systems that can crush us without any problem. And finally shouting to the face of death: “although I have no idea what it actually means, I’m nonetheless convinced that LIFE IS STRONGER THAN YOU!” Do we want to live “like never before?” Then it is the only way. For we haven’t lived like that ever before, I haven’t, because I finally believed all the stories told me to explain what it means to be adult, and cautiously started accepting the laws of adulthood. Only what seemed possible was possible. It is of course a self-fulfilling prophecy if we ignore in advance anything that seems impossible. But Easter seems to be saying: “why not try the impossible if what’s possible doesn’t work anyway?” Do you remember: “Let imagination rule?”* And actually still worse: what we cannot imagine should lead us – “the white spot”**, Mary Magdalene’s “woman talk”… Liberated slaves turned out to be the chosen people in order to give witness that God never sides with the slave drivers. The risen powerless outcast, who, with the greatest possible insubordination, was called he Son of God to show that only he is the Lord, and not the mighty emperor in Rome…

*”Let imagination rule” was the slogan of the first truly progressive cabinet in the post-war history of Holland (1973-77) led by the leader of the social democratic party Joop den Uyl and composed of social democrats, radicals, progressive democrats and two confessional parties – a Catholic and a Protestant one.

**The term “white spot” is a reference to the words of a contemporary Lutheran theologian, Marcel Barnard. In his book “Wat het oog heeft gezien” he reflects on the Apostle’s Creed inspired by masterpieces of world painting. The chapter devoted to the resurrection was inspired by Giotta di Bondone’s fresco Nori me tangere. Bernard writes: “The true Pascha escapes observation. Noting is to be seen. So nothing can also be imagined apart from the empty place, a white spot. Giotto’s Risen One tends to be like that.”

This entry was posted in English entries and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply