Reflection: Easter Sunday 2013
“Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail, hippity hoppity Easter’s on its way!…” Do any of you remember that song from your childhood? Merrily the Easter bunny hops down the trail with jelly beans for Tommy, coloured eggs for sister Sue, and an orchid and an Easter bonnet for Mommy. When we were children, my brothers thought it was quite amusing to sing this version of the song…” Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail – SNARE!” It was a joke – but rather in poor taste. So much for the innocence of youth! If you think violence first entered childhood with the video game, you’re mistaken – though perhaps it’s getting worse.
I really enjoy being with kids, but I’m under no illusions about them being perfect little angels all the time! (I certainly wasn’t.) I’m not a believer in original sin or the inherent sinfulness of humanity, but there does seem to be in our human make-up both great capacity for compassion, fairness and generosity, and great capacity for greed and violence and injustice – right from when we’re very small. I see it in human beings of all ages, and I know that sometimes as parents and grandparents and friends of the young, we wonder if the negative side of humanity might get the better of the generations who are now growing among us. I certainly feel some alarm from time to time at some of the influences on the children I know and love.
One of the children in my life was telling me about a video game she really likes. In it women in tight outfits and high heels beat each other up, including kicks to the head – and she figured it was OK because there was no blood, and they always get up and walk away. I was also witness to a conversation earlier in the week about the violence in hockey, rugby and other popular sports, and how it appears that many coaches, mentors and even parents feel it’s OK for the players to do whatever it takes to win – including causing permanent damage to other players. Both adults were saying that there needs to be an antidote to the violence, competitiveness and aggression that is being nurtured by so much of our society. (Let’s be honest, I think many people are looking for an alternative to these attitudes and influences on their children, but it’s not always easy to have your children participate in peer activities and still challenge the prevailing mindsets. My kudos to those who manage to do it!)
In the story of Easter, we find an antidote. There is violence in the story of Easter, yes – but it is violence that is vanquished. Jesus was killed – horribly, terribly – by the authorities who didn’t like the influence he was having on the people around him. For different reasons, they didn’t like his emphasis on justice and compassion over judgement and control. Both the occupiers of his country and his own leaders found him disruptive and a danger to a precarious status quo – and for the sake of keeping things calm they got rid of him. Yet even at the hour of his arrest, Jesus rejected violence, and while dying, spoke words of forgiveness for those who had him put to death. And after his death, when it seemed that violence had triumphed, Mary came to the tomb and found him gone – then alive once more.
I believe that part of the message of Easter is that God rejects violence as a means to an end, no matter how important that end may be to us. God does not send Jesus to suffer, but instead, joins him and all humanity in suffering in order to redeem it – in order to show that this is not the way it has to be. The compassion and mercy of God trounce the violent judgement of the world into which Jesus was born – a world not t unlike our own in some ways.
If as Christians, we join with Christ on a path of dying and rising, then we too die to the status quo of competition, greed and violence, and live anew a life of compassion and generosity. This is true both by our own choice, but also by the Spirit of God working in us, which gives us the capacity to do that which we could not do by ourselves.
Being a part of a faith community – a community that walks in Jesus’ steps – is a powerful antidote to the forces that would make our world a harsh and dangerous place in which to live. I pray that each of us may feel the power of the resurrection moving within us, and changing our lives and our world for the better. Amen.