Easter was odd for me this year. It felt a little cloudy, and Jesus felt a little bit far away.
I grew up being taught that Jesus was a certain kind of man — mostly white, mostly American, mostly southern Baptist — and now that that myth has crumbled for me, all I feel is distant reverence for this Savior that I've always really and truly wanted to be close to.
My friend Randy posed this question on Facebook yesterday morning, and it, of course, generated a heated discussion:
"Where in the world does a Christianity exist that is not embedded with either capitalism, a Western worldview or Whiteness?"
Some people called him a racist. Some people genuinely wanted to know the answer.
As an indigenous woman who has called herself a Christian her whole life so far, it's difficult to place a particular label on Jesus of Nazareth, let alone on God.
In native culture, Creator God is the greatest mystery, and that really speaks to me.
But Jesus was flesh-and-blood, and he also speaks to me.
The problem is our interpretation of his speaking. The problem is the way in which we take his words and twist them to support our own ends.
Our political goals.
Our money-making schemes.
Our intent to take advantage of others.
Our generated hate.
Our ability to push people out of the church.
So what is Easter to us today, in this world in which we see the identity of Jesus used in such ways?
What if Easter is our starting over point, our "New Year" packed with resolutions to begin again in the ways of grace?
What if Easter for us is like those days for Barabbas, those days after he watched this innocent man die on a cross and find him after he'd resurrected? What began again in Barabbas, what new life and fresh perspective?
Or have we forgotten even the transformation of the butterfly, the journey from the caterpillar to the chrysalis and out into the sky?
The pulse of the world feels louder today than it did a few months ago. The earth cries out and some people are choosing to listen and respond, and maybe we could all get a little better about that, too.
The fighting of the world seems worse today, and the visibility of constant social media feeds makes it even more tangible. In our fighting, do we remember lives behind screens? Flesh and bones, hurting and broken people attempting to communicate something?
What if, in our world, we start over again today? What if we make a list of resolutions, a few notes on paper, this or that to remind us that Easter is meant to change us?
I want to know that Jesus exists outside of the culture I grew up in, that he exists for my indigenous world and my churched world, too. I want to know him outside of culture altogether as the Jesus who is my friend and supporter. I want to learn from indigenous Christian leaders like Richard Twiss to understand how my worlds can possibly come together when they've stayed separate for so long.
I want to know Jesus is for both “us” and “them” because the hard reality is, Jesus is for reconciliation in all things.
I want to have genuine conversations with people about our political views, about our views of God, of community, of the cross. I want to share my story and have you share yours, so that healing can begin.
I want to step away from the computer more often and find again spaces with my boys where we commune with nature, we commune with each other, we commune with God.
I want to learn the art of prayer as ceremony. In native culture we pray using gifts of tobacco, sage, sweetgrass. We pray to Creator who shows us that the world is a benevolent place, meant to teach us something. I want to learn in my praying.
I want to watch my garden grow, nurture it into healthy maturity, and plan a garden for future seasons. I want to learn sustainable living in a new way that connects me to my faith, to my ancestors, and to my community.
Friends, I need a start-over button, or Easter feels like a day that came and went, with nothing else to it.
But if the stone was rolled away and the people were in their homes hiding because they were afraid, didn't they need to begin again, too?
So Jesus came and said, "Peace, dear ones. Peace."
And in that proclamation, they were called into something new.
So what now? What now after Easter has passed?
The day is new, and so is the grace, the Mystery, the sacred love of God.
So is our opportunity to re-create grace and Mystery and sacred love in our own lives.
"What do you do the day after you change your life?" — Barbara Brown Taylor