When ‘Alleluia’ Feels Hollow | Sojourners

When ‘Alleluia’ Feels Hollow

A Chocolate Easter bunny, wrapped in shiny golden and silver aluminum foil, partially nibbled away, foil ripped open at the top
A Chocolate Easter bunny, wrapped in shiny golden and silver aluminum foil, partially nibbled away, foil ripped open at the top. EThamPhoto / Alamy

Jesus rose on Sunday, but my heart is stuck in Lent.

Last week my church gathered our first in-person Holy Week services since before the pandemic. We sung Charles Wesley’s classic Easter hymn, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” our trailing alleluias slightly out-of-sync as we remembered how to blend our voices. But when we got to the line, “Where, O death, is now thy sting?” the words stuck in my throat. Love’s redeeming work is done — I do believe that — but fresh examples of death’s sting aren’t hard to spot.

As Austen Hartke points out, the disciples weren’t in the mood for Easter either; when the risen Jesus found them, they were deep in mourning, hiding, and terrified. Even as the reality of the resurrection sank in, Luke’s gospel notes that “in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering” (Luke 24:41).

But the promise of Easter, says Hartke, is that Jesus shows up — whether for trans people targeted by recent legislation, for Ukrainians bearing witness to the hellscape of war, or those working to rid their communities of toxic chemicals. It’s what Vox’s Siobhan McDonough describes as the complicated joy woven through the novel Les Misérables and what Betsy Painter calls the “paradisiacal hope” of a new creation that doesn’t ignore the groans of this one.

So whether you’re belting out alleluias or working through more complicated feelings, here are 10 stories to meet you where you’re at this Eastertide.

1. Christians Started the ‘Groomer’ Lie — Now We Need to End It
LGBTQ people have spent their lives countering the degrading falsehood that they are pedophiles. By Ryan Duncan via sojo.net.

2. One Good Thing: Les Mis Is Here To Complicate Your Joy
Why sewer systems are the key to understanding Les Mis. By Siobhan McDonough via Vox.

3. On Earth Day, I Imagine a Restored Earthly Paradise
Badgers, moles, and other creatures echo early Christian theologians: The new earth is deeply connected to this one. By Betsy Painter via sojo.net.

4. How a Suburb of San Francisco Used Cottage Cheese to Un-Poison Poisoned Land
It’s part of a much bigger story about the challenge of cleaning up contaminated sites that don’t quite reach Superfund status. By Annie Hammang via Slate.

5. The Disciples Were Terrified on Easter. Trans People Can Relate
I mourn recent legislation that targets my trans siblings, but I also know that Jesus shows up amid fear. By Austen Hartke via sojo.net.

6. Funk Music Taught Me How to Be an Environmentalist
Driving through the aftermath of yet another unprecedented hurricane, Ko Bragg realized the funk music of her childhood best describes the climate crisis facing her and her loved ones today. By Ko Bragg via harpersbazaar.com.

7. Wipf and Stock To Pull ‘Bad and Boujee’ From Publication, Distribution
Jennifer M. Buck’s book, Bad and Boujee: Toward a Trap Feminist Theology, was criticized earlier in the week for its treatment and representations of Black women and their ideas. By Mitchell Atencio via sojo.net.

8. Riding a Bike in America Should Not Be This Dangerous
Bicyclists and pedestrians are dying at alarming rates. Do we have the courage to remake our car-centric streets? By Farhad Manjoo via nytimes.com.

9. Let God Be(e) God: Lessons From Stewarding a Hive
My journey started when I played The Sims 4, which has a beekeeping feature. “I can do this,” I thought. By Karyn Bigelow via sojo.net.

10. Easter in Ukraine
Constantin Sigov, Ukrainian philosopher and director of the European Center at the University of Kyiv, reflects on the time he left the USSR, the war in Ukraine, and what Easter means at this critical time. By Constantin Sigov via Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs.