American Christians, How Can We Celebrate Easter?

Commentary
By Cláudio Carvalhaes 4-10-2017

Next week is Resurrection Sunday. But while Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, and life out of death, this resurrection isn't a reality for the vast majority of the world. How can we celebrate Easter when women and children in Syria are the victims of brutal attacks, and the nations of the world debate what level of violence is appropriate to counteract their deaths?

How can we Christians celebrate Easter when countries are bombarded, and refugees are piling into camps or dying trying to cross terrestrial and water borders?

How can we Christians celebrate Easter when indigenous people are losing everything everywhere in the world?

How can we Christians celebrate Easter when black people continue to be shot on the streets of the world, exploited and put in jail at the mercy of the state?

How can we Christians celebrate Easter when agribusinesses are taking over people’s lands, privatizing lands and seeds, destroying the environment with monocultures, pesticides and producing food insecurity for millions of people?

How can we Christians celebrate Easter amidst poverty, racism, and militarism?

How can we Christians celebrate Easter when undocumented people in this country continue to be scared, shattered, abused, exploited, brutalized, and deported?

In the midst of so much death, how can we celebrate Easter?

These questions can be paired with questions regarding our own sense of worship on that day. How much have we Christians replaced justice with worship, not taking one into serious relation with the other? Are we accustomed to worship in the total absence of justice?

For the poor of this country, and of the world, it is always Good Friday and Holy Saturday, always death and trauma. Far from welcoming new life every spring, instead we are caught in the cycle of post-traumatic stress disorder — wondering from where the next blow will come. The veil has been torn, but the material is that of our social fabric, that keeps families afloat and generations tending to the needs of the next. The working poor of the Baby Boomers are finding the survival they’ve earned, from somewhat steady jobs and the collection of social security, is eaten up from the need to care for their children and for their children’s children. Even that level of sustenance will not be the same for future generations.

For my people, every day is a journey between Friday and Saturday, with hope for Sunday. Perhaps it is this stubborn faith that keeps the poor going. In many ways, they find resurrection in the midst of Friday and Saturday.

Mary Magdalene, the one who has been called so many names, can help us see resurrection better. She walks to the tomb for some reason. Why? Does she need to appease her pain? Be closer to the one she loved? She walks in the dark, when everybody might be asleep. Her love makes her move. When she faces the empty tomb, what was desolation and loss turn into something else that places her whole self in a very different place and sends her forth to proclaim the possibility of resurrection.

Perhaps this is how the poor live. Living in the dark, walking towards something that might say and do something new to them. Moving their bodies to protect and feed those they love. They also carry the precious lives of their families. They carry the stubborn love and hope that expects nothing less than resurrection.

Perhaps Mary Magdalene is like the women today who see something else that not many people see. Perhaps what we need to do this Easter is listen to women. Mary Magdalene and many other women in our time are like John the Baptist, announcing something new, new forms of communal life, new possibilities to protect and empower people, the necessary call to justice with the news of love and transformation! Even life that can come out of death. As Nancy Cardoso, a theologian and Biblical scholar from Brazil says: “Resurrection, if there is one, will be in the materialities of a new world, communities of necessary revolutions to equalize people.”

From Mary Magdalene we hear that there is resurrection and Jesus is alive. From the women of our times, we hear that Jesus is present, and is now living among the poor.

Via ON Scripture.

Dr. Cláudio Carvalhaes is a theologian, liturgist, teaching elder of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the author of Eucharist and Globalization: Redrawing the Borders of Eucharistic Hospitality

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