Sunday, March 18, 2007

Does Easter have any meaning?

Recently a friend posted some reflections on the meaning of Easter in her life. It gave me pause to reflect on the meaning of Easter. Some of her comments were:

"This ritualized, contemplative replay which has come to be called EASTER, throws up various themes for the disciple, then and now, including:
*disappointment with “God” (Jesus comes to Jerusalem a hero and then lets himself be taken as a criminal)
*disappointment with “religion” (those who should recognize the real thing don't, and act to get rid of it)
*disappointment with each other (big talkers, fast runners)
*disappointment with “history” (things shaping up to something grand dissipate in chaos and confusion)

(YOU CAN SEE ALREADY WHY I THINK IT'S ALL PERTINENT)

*waiting, trusting (when everything's in the tomb/toilet don't give up)
*face the utter darkness within and without (a kind of death)
*gather together what is true, loving (keep going – simpler, humbler)
*act according to this pattern of truth and love (just do it)
*experience life transfigured from within (not powered by heroes or driven by extraordinary historical, ideological claims)
*be this life transfigured, redeemed, resurrected for others"

My initial response was I think still accurate. The religious tradition I have come from is Reformed. As such much of this strikes no chord with me at all. Without any ritual at all, Easter was the time we remembered that Jesus died to save his people from Sin and he rose from the dead.

My friend comes from a Catholic tradition which has a strong emphasis on liturgy. I guess now I have left Christianity I can see that the strong liturgical traditions like the Catholic and Orthodox give a lot more than just ideas to participants.

Perhaps these important experiences persist after belief fails but what can they offer to those who see them as artifacts of another religion? Having no faith I can see no meaning in Easter, these other values are not there for me because the story that tells them is different from the story I knew.

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