The Story

The Story

April 5, 2015
Stina Pope

The Mystery of Easter

In the beginning, the baby was born. God chose Mary to be the Mother of God. The Word was born a wordless child. Mother Mary and Father Joseph held the baby close. The kept the baby warm. They gave the baby everything the baby needed to grow.

The baby grew and became a boy. When he was about twelve years old, he went with Mother Mary and Father Joseph and with many other people from the village of Nazareth to the great city of Jerusalem in order to keep one of the high holy days. When the celebration was over, the people from Nazareth went out through the great high gate and started on the road toward home. Suddenly, Mary and Joseph discovered that Jesus wasn’t there! They thought he had been playing with the other children from their village. They hurried back into the great city to find him.

Mary and Joseph looked in the dark and narrow streets. They looked in the marketplace where they had bought their food. They looked where they had spent the night. Finally, they even looked in the Temple – and there he was! He was talking to the rabbis and the priests. When he spoke, they listened because he knew so much; when they spoke, he listened, because he wanted to learn more.

Mary and Joseph asked Jesus the question all parents ask; the question you can never answer: “Why did you do this?” Jesus said, “Didn’t you know I would be in my Father’s house?” Mary and Joseph did not understand, but they did not forget.

Jesus grew and became a man. When he was about thirty years old, he went to the River Jordan, where his cousin, John, was baptizing people. Jesus waded into the river until he was face to face with John. He said, “Baptize me.”

John looked at Jesus, and saw – maybe for the first time – who Jesus really was. “How can I baptize you? You are the Messiah, the one we have been waiting for. You must baptize me.” “No. It is written that you will come before me and prepare the way. Baptize me.”

Jesus went down into the darkness and chaos of the water. When John lifted him back up into the light, there were people who said they saw a dove come down from heaven and come close to him. There were people who said they heard a voice. The voice said, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”

After Jesus was baptized, he went on across the River Jordan into the desert. He stayed there forty days and forty nights to learn more about who he was and what his work was going to be. There was little to eat or to drink.

One day he heard a voice. It said, “Why don’t you turn one of those stones over there into bread and have something to eat?”

Jesus said, “No. To be a real human being, we need more than just bread to eat.”

Suddenly it was as if Jesus were on top of the great Temple in Jerusalem. The voice came back, “If you are really the Son of God, why don’t you jump and see if God sends the angels to catch you before you hit the stones below?”

Jesus said, “No. We do not need to test God.”
Then, it was as if Jesus could see all the kingdoms of the world. The voice came back again: “If you will follow me, I will make you king over all these kingdoms.”

Jesus said “No. I am to be a king, but not that kind of king.” Then the voice went away.

Jesus came back across the Jordan River and began to do his work. His work was to come close to people, especially the people no one else wanted to come close to. He came close to a blind man and touched his eyes. When Jesus came close to people, they changed. They could see things they could never see before. They could do things they could never do before. They became well.

Jesus also told parables. Finally, he knew that he had to become a parable, so he turned toward Jerusalem for the last time.

It was the time of the Passover, and the city was full of people from many different lands. They thought Jesus was coming to be king, but they weren’t paying attention. He wasn’t riding on a great white horse when he came into the city. He wasn’t being carried by soldiers. He was riding on a donkey, and it wasn’t even his. Still, that Sunday when Jesus came into Jerusalem, people waved palm branches, which were a sign of kings.

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Jesus went into the Temple to teach. Every night, he went back to the Mount of Olives with the Twelve. The people watched him and whispered that the Mount of Olives was where angels were supposed to come down to make an army to drive away the Roman soldiers.

The Temple guards said, “On Thursday, we will take him.” But on Thursday, they could not find him. That evening, Jesus and his friends hurried through the dark streets to a house. They climbed up the stairs to an upper room and shared their last supper together.

After they had everything they wanted to eat, Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it and said something like, “Whenever you break the bread like this and share it, I will be there.” He also took a cup of wine, gave thanks to God for it, and said, “Whenever you share a cup of wine like this, I will be there.” What was he talking about? He was always saying things like that. How could they know? Still, they did not forget, and later they would understand.

Suddenly Judas got up and left. The rest sang a hymn and then went to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Jesus wanted to pray. When he was finished, he joined his friends, but Judas came out of the dark and greeted him. This was a signal for the Temple guards to take him. The guards came out of the shadows and took Jesus away with them into the night. His friends disappeared into the darkness as well.

The night was a confusing one. The next day, Jesus was taken outside the walls of the city and put on a cross. It was terrible. That afternoon, Jesus died. The sky grew dark. Jesus was taken down from the cross and buried in a cave. A great stone was rolled into the opening of the cave to close it like a door.

Saturday was so quiet you could almost hear the earth breathing. On Sunday, it was the women who had the courage to go to the tomb just to be close to Jesus. They wanted to remember, even if it was sad. When they came to the tomb, they found that the stone had been rolled back and that the tomb was empty, except for an angel who told them Jesus would meet them later.

The crucifixion and the resurrection are two sides of the same coin. You cannot pull them apart. This is the Mystery of Easter and it makes all the difference. This story has not ended; it goes on forever.

I wonder: I wonder what part of this story is the most important part?

I wonder if there is any part of the story we can leave out and still have all the story we need?

I wonder how your journey fits with this journey? I wonder how this story will make a difference?

What’s radical about Easter, then, is not that Christians claim a dead man rose from the dead. What’s radical is what that means — specifically, what it meant for Rome, and, by implication, what it means for all kingdoms everywhere, including the ones we live in. Jesus’ resurrection marked the end of Caesar’s way of doing things. It established a new kingdom in which enemies are loved, the marginalized are given primacy of place, and the poor are blessed. In this kingdom, hierarchies are subverted, concentrated power is decentralized, and prodigal children are welcomed home. Black lives matter here, as do queer lives and the lives of undocumented aliens within our borders — “Remember the stranger in your midst” is a common refrain in this kingdom. Brandon Ambrosino April 1, 2015

I watched a video this week in absolute horror as a child dressed in a Tshirt and jeans stood shivering for two hours on a city street, trying to use a black plastic bag to keep himself warm. People walking by in their coats and hats looked away. It was a homeless man who stopped, and looked, and gave the child his coat. I would name this homeless man Jesus, risen from the dead. I would call us to be the Body of Christ, living in the day of resurrection, a place where enemies are loved, the poor are blessed, and all lives matter.

Christ is risen, may we each claim that day of resurrection for all of us!