Something happened almost 2,000 years ago and we’ve been trying to figure it out for a long time. But, the truth of the resurrection is best told in symbol, in celebration, in song. It is the Mystery that will not go away. We call it “Easter,” “the Resurrection,” or “God’s ‘Yes’ to Life.” Whatever we call it, we still encounter a Reality beyond our understandings of loss…and joy. It is the God of our experience Who teaches us of the Mystery which will not go away.
In the seventy years I’ve been celebrating Easter, I’ve noticed that we’ve grown more cynical, self-isolated, and ready to throw trusted truths away. We’ve accepted tangible “gods,” which come in electronic boxes. Since we can “control” our world, the hope of Easter doesn’t fit our understandings.
But, I return in my heart to people who know God in spite of what they cannot fathom. Perhaps they only hear the whisper of hope that does not die. One such friend is Susan. She cares for a daughter who was left in a coma more years and years ago. For a while, after the tragic accident, Susan asked the human question — “Why?” “Why didn’t the driver see?” “Why did it happen to our family?” But, there came a point when Susan was free from needing answers to embracing Mystery. She could ask for help from the God Who gave her courage for just one step each day. After years of prayerful persistence, Susan continues to know the hope that God will show the way.
This is the Mystery that will not go away. We know it began in Jesus’ teachings — “I must suffer and die, and after three days, rise again.” We know it continued in the women who bore the pain — the mothers and Mary Magdalene; they stood in compassion before the power of Rome. We know it continued “on the third day” as mourners found the tomb empty in spite of the stone that blocked the way. And, we believed it continued in the Upper Room where even doubt could not hold the final sway.
That is the Mystery. It persists in times when we feel the world is fearful. It persists beyond the Gospel record. It persists beyond our creeds. It persists beyond our celebrations. It is the lived experience of times when we know there is Something more that our hearts can see.
When there is deceit or suffering around us, we can feel the Counselor inside. We can listen to the Spirit. We can trust words or the profundity of silence.
But, it is in the lived experience of faith that we keep finding God’s transforming power. Our mercy, our celebrations, our music can patiently show us the way:
“Healer of our every ill, light of our tomorrow,
give us peace beyond our fear, and hope beyond our sorrow ...”
— Marty Haugen
Rev. Dr. Sally Palmer is a religious studies adjunct professor at the University of Wyoming and the former pastor of St. Paul’s United Church.