Been raised up.
Been in exile.
And brought out of Egypt.
Been a victim.
Well, that didn’t work …
Lost it all.
Been with family when they died.
Was there with my children when they were born.
Followed a lie.
Was led into truth.
Believed an enemy.
Trusted a friend.
Been to the hill.
Walked out of the garden.
Built a fire.
Was covered by water.
Year in, year out … tide in, tide out.
Ah, for every season …
In my line of work, we cover the spectrum of human experience, much of it unpleasant.
Amid moments of triumph, tragedies.
For some, great gain. For others, despairing loss. Birth. Death.
But it’s spring now, full of promise, after the tomb-like darkness of winter. At home, the garden begins to teem with life and weeds. A hint of color peeks out from the earth.
It can be, what? Incongruous? Unfathomable, this juxtaposition of death and life. We make horrible mistakes, and we sometimes feel trapped in a tidal wave of events, problems, regrets and resentments.
In Santa Cruz, the shocking murder of two cops left many people wondering just what any of this means — the strangers among us, the intrusion of violence and chaos into the seemingly well-ordered, if illusory, everyday “reality.”
For thousands of years, humans turned to God, and to gods, for assurance that life had a purpose, an ultimate meaning, an answer. For most people in our country today, however, those questions are no longer asked, and the search has long since been abandoned.
And even for those living within the Judeo-Christian traditions, the three days of Good Friday through Easter, and the Passover, don’t dispel the difficult questions most of us face. Children murdered by a madman at an elementary school during the Christmas season, a massacre of the innocents. Cops murdered on a neighborhood street. Natural disasters. Cancer. Starvation. Terrorism.
Deaths at the hands of loved ones. And in car crashes. Children dying inexplicably, as mothers weep and mourn.
What kind of Easter hope is that?
We ask, “How could any God permit so many tragedies?” Is it judgment? Indifference? Absence? Does God enjoy torturing us? The joke’s on us — and the seeming cruelty we can experience in nature, and the natural cruelty that can occur in humans, is just an expression of cosmic … nothingness.
In our world, politicians wrestle with the issue of how many lives are lost to guns, to drugs, to homelessness, and openly wonder whether solutions can ever be fashioned.
What about the rest of us? When do we get solved?
We live in a broken world, one that is passing away, sooner or later. Where nothing is permanent. Certainly not us. Not our thoughts nor our ideas. But we cling to a belief that somehow humans can be perfected, that with enough knowledge we’ll see disease and disaster eliminated, and peace and prosperity will reign. Given enough time, and the right technology, everything will work out. Marching forward into a paradise on earth.
The evidence, however, suggests otherwise.
And yet, every hair is numbered. So what does Easter have to do with this? The message is that God has sent a rescue line to us, as we swirl about in our seeming sea of abandonment and chaos.
Come to the river.
The Easter story is that God showed up, in this world just as it is, offering us a choice, to pass from death to life. And so we wait, in the promise he will show up again.
The message of Easter is just that: We have been passed over. We are not alone in our pain and suffering.
None should perish. Each death — so wrong.
Prepare the way. Roll away the stone.
There is hope.