by Bil Aulenbach

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I’m an Easter Guy

There are six church seasons: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.

Christmas is probably most people’s favorite. I like it as a secular holiday but not as a religious one—I see no reason to celebrate fairy tales. We have no idea where, when, or how Jesus was born, but we sure spend a lot of energy and money celebrating the unknown.

Advent and Lent are penitential seasons. Too many churches want us to grovel because we’re supposedly such rotten sinners. Not me. I believe in Original Goodness, not Original Sin.

Before modern reforms, Episcopalian congregants were required to say “We are not worthy to gather up the crumbs under thy table.” What a horrible, dehumanizing thought. The church needs to remind us that we are worthy.

Sackcloth and ashes only make me want to shower.

Easter, my favorite church season, starts with Palm Sunday, which isn’t about a parade in Jerusalem but instead is a reminder that Jesus and his army of believers, wielding the weapon of agape, are still marching.

In contrast, the mighty Roman Empire is no longer parading. It is history. Yes, the Romans crucified Jesus, but one can’t crucify agape.

Through the symbols of bread and wine (or juice), the Last Supper story reminds us, as a gathered community, of what Jesus did for us and for history. However, to me, the most powerful part of the Last Supper story, found only in the Gospel of John, is when Jesus washes his disciples’ feet (John 13:1–17). I need this reminder that even though I am ordained, my role is to be a foot washer (servant) to all, especially the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40).

Good Friday (how is crucifixion good?) always reminds me of people’s propensity for inflicting horrendous cruelties on our fellow human beings. We can’t seem to stop the carnage (just watch the six o’clock news tonight), but we can counteract some of it with agape.

On the Friday that Jesus died, he was totally dead—as a doornail. He was not resuscitated. Dead is dead.

Jesus was never literally resurrected, but his message about the transforming power of agape figuratively resurrected his disciples, Paul, and many Jews and Gentiles.

Over the centuries, Jesus’s message has resurrected millions of lives, mine included. New resurrections (transformations) happen daily to people who are figuratively dead, such as drug addicts, hardened criminals, corrupt businessmen, fraudulent lawyers and doctors, and abusive clergy. They had their Good Friday (which is never good) and now want to have an Easter and a chance to live fully again.

This is Good News and the reason I love Easter. This holiday is a yearly reminder to love all people unconditionally, no matter where they are on their life’s journey, and to care for the hurting world.

Happy Easter, and may your life be full of them.

Image is in the public domain courtesy of Shari Weinsheimer

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