Pondering the liturgical seasons of the year because of a program he was watching, he
concluded that he had always been drawn to Christmas from the time he was a child right up to today, except now given life’s circumstances, he would rather be on the road traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem, Egypt and then back instead of in church listening to the carols. Too many memories.
As he thinks about it, he has never been particularly taken with Easter. His mother made him wear an uncomfortable new suit just about every year when he was just a boy and there was much talk and singing of resurrection and ascension combined, Jesus coming out of the tomb and then later ascending to heaven. As a child he took it on face value even as sort of a science fiction story but it became problematic as time went on.
Christmas was never a problem. It was about a birth, a baby, things he knew, witnessed, understood, things he could get his head around.
As an adult on Easter, he would hear people say responsively, “He is risen.” “He is risen indeed,” the indeed spoken a little too strongly like the emphasis was a guarantee of that which no one is really confident of, as in a Shakespearean paraphrase, “The lady does affirm too much, methinks.”
He can go to Easter services because they are a bit hypothetical, maybe theologically abstract, and don’t touch as close to heart, hearth and home as the story of a sweet but nevertheless bloody birth.
It has always been easier for him to understand God coming down than God going up, up and away and then back down again in the Holy Spirit — God coming down to be with us, God caring enough to be with us in utter joy, sympathy, empathy, compassion, agony, grief. When he was at his lowest, he saw Jesus on the cross and he knew that God was with him in every way.
Maybe that’s why he has always been a better Good Friday and Holy Saturday Christian — death, doubt and dilemma. He gets birth and death; he has seen a sufficient amount of each and perhaps, just perhaps, that’s why Christmas on the road and Good Friday on the road are ways to cope with the whole existentially blessed and bloody business.
And he thinks about resurrection and while he still cringes at “He is risen INDEED,” he’s okay with an affirmation of mystery; it’s a bit removed from the joy of birth and the sorrow of death and all of Jesus’ blood and our blood between the two but it is hopeful to contemplate life and love as victorious over death.
And that is why, while on the road, he has his eyes open for ways in which God comes down to be with us, bringing that eternal light into the darkness and lifting our spirits from death to life right in the midst of the whole bloody mess, and he guesses that that, in some way, is an Easter affirmation.