Happy Easter! Although Easter Sunday occurred 8 days ago, the Easter season lasts for 50 days. Thus, the Easter greetings must keep coming. I suppose this is something that I learned from my dad. As long I can remember, he has enthusiastically greeted friends and family with this post-resurrection acknowledgement. He faithfully does it all the way until Pentecost. It doesn’t matter where he is; church, the grocery store, or the post office. If he knows you and knows that you share the Christian faith, you are going to get an Easter greeting.
It is not so much the words, “Happy Easter,” that ring true, but his authentic expression of joy. Easter is fundamentally about the profound joy that we experience believing that Jesus is risen and that hope and new life overcome death and suffering. Jesus’ victory gives us the courage we need to confront the challenges of life, as well as patience to endure through times of alienation and sadness. For this reason, we celebrate Easter with a sense of solace and elation.
It is because of Easter that we, as a people and a church, have a unique understanding of pain and suffering. As I stated above, Jesus, the risen Christ, has triumphed over death. The fear, threat, and event of death no longer overburden and/or paralyze us. What does this mean in our day to day living and for our relationships? Well, it means that the dead are still our friends to borrow from the theologian, Elizabeth Johnson. Our beloved dead continue to form us and inspire us, even though they are no longer physically present. Their departure from earth does not bring an end to their relationship with us. Albeit in a new and different way, we continue to relate to those who have come before us and those whom have marked us.
We believe that our beloved will live forever, as part of the Body of Christ. We, as members of one universal Church, share in this Body. This type of believing in not simply a mental exercise. It is a heartfelt truth anchored in love. The love that we have shared with the dead, which finds its source in the self-giving love of Christ, never ceases. Love continues even when someone is no longer with us. The unconquerable love of God, which has been revealed to us in and through our human relationships, is what establishes the joy of Easter.
May your Easter season be joyful! May your continue to offer one another Easter greetings. May we all continue to lean into the love of God. Jesus Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
Paul Shoaf Kozak