On Easter Sunday, several years ago now, the Pastor of the Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago was giving his last homily before he moved on to a new assignment, after years spent at the cathedral. It was a beautiful sermon. I can not hope to replicate it, but I can give you the gist:
Each of us, throughout our lives, go through stages, or chapters, and when the chapter ends, our old lives end. We die, enter a tomb of transition, and a short time later, like Christ on Easter, we must roll back the stone and emerge into a new life. For life is a constant series of dying and being reborn, from the chapters of experience and development, and even from one moment to the next. The old us is dead and we are being called to a new, different life. And, like a string of pearls, the tombs leave a record of who we were and our transformation.
I never did cotton to the idea of Jesus as a scapegoat for all of our sins and “saving us”. I always thought that the living Jesus and his message of peace was the core Christian message. But, this framing of the resurrection story made a kooky fairy tale into profound wisdom, something to be considered on every Easter and other days too.
Am I open to new life? Am I stuck in a tomb? Should I die, hopeful, to once again be reborn? Perhaps the message of Easter isn’t about Jesus and the Romans and events that happened thousands of years ago. Perhaps the message of Easter is about facing our own suffering and hopefully be resurrected, right here in this life.