Christ is risen!
Easter is always a bittersweet time for me. Just as, paradoxically, the beginning of Lent is always a happy occurrence so with Easter there is a tinge of sorrow. It marks the end of the great fast and my favorite time of year, liturgically. The various Christian bodies will go off to observe their separate traditions (or ignore tradition altogether) and the spiritual unanimity of the paschal season will be lost. This is particularly true now because it will be several years yet before the Eastern and Western Easter calendars align again like they have for the past two years.
The real bitterness, though, is in reflection on my own spiritual state at the end of the fast. Easter and its magnificence throws into sharp relief all my own short comings of the past six weeks. Every time I may have broken fast or neglected the spirit of the fast or even every time I didn’t anoint my head with oil. Recently, I had focused so much of my concern on persevering until the end, that I overlooked the startling craftiness of the devil. The real trial of fasting is not that we might grow weary of it but that we shouldn’t. In our weariness, we meet God. He has a heart for the broken, the weak, and the longing. The real snare that our enemy sets for us is arrogance, the confidence that we can persevere. We become so comfortable in our deprivation that we forget that our success depends on God or else we allow our resolve to slip into the background and begin to fill the void we have created by fasting with a substitute both for the object or behavior we are abstaining from and for the God who ought to be our satisfaction in its stead.
And yet wonderfully, mystically, beautifully therein lies the indomitable joy of Easter. It came anyway. It didn’t matter that I failed on so many levels. It didn’t matter that beneath all the apparent unity in our Christian observance there lingered seeds of discord. It didn’t matter that some didn’t fast and never fast. None of it mattered. None of our sins were ever enough to keep Christ in the grave. Before time and outside of time he knew just how pathetic I would be, but he still created me, still came for me, still died for me, and still rose then and today as a conqueror over the darkness that I am inadequate to overcome.
The veil has been torn, the stone has been rolled away, death has been swallowed up in victory, and Jesus Christ--praise to his name--is risen.
And the church said: amen.