Monday, April 24, 2006

Happy Ending?

I ran into a good meditation on the Resurrection today at Hopeful Amphibian, entitled The Great Disturbance. (Thanks, Maggi, for the link.)

As the blog's author says about the Resurrection, "It's not a happy ending." Just having finished talking to my four year old daughter about Jesus dying and God raising him to new life, I really appreciated this.

I think it is an especially helpful tonic to our tendency to see Easter as 'everything turning out alright', as if we can ever go back to life as we know it. It's hard, when one is talking to a four year old, or talking to oneself, not to just say "Whew! Jesus is OK!" and then just move on as if nothing happened. We want that happy ending. We want the resurrection to be comedy, a genre in which everything, by definition, works out alright in the end and we go home.

Or, perhaps, we want tragedy, with the exquisite sorrow of losing something irrevocably, never to be returned, but mourned and moved beyond. We want to feel the loss. There can be a certain sensibility which is quite happy to stay in Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

But the Cross and Resurrection are neither tragedy nor comedy. The Paschal Mystery* transcends genres. (Which I keep telling my four year old, believe me!) It is neither the case that everything is fine and nothing changes (comedy), nor that everything is lost and everything changes (tragedy). Both of these allow us to move on, to leave behind the whole tableau of the cross and empty tomb. Whatever else the resurrection of Christ might be, it is not a mundane event that we can be done with or move beyond. Rather, it seems that we are to dwell within the entire Paschal Mystery such that the grace and wonder and awe of it all preoccupy us, so that we come (through the working of the Spirit) to embody in ourselves the love, humility, service of Christ, sharing in his sufferings and hoping for the glory which is to come.

That's not a happy ending; it's much more than that.

*The "Paschal Mystery" is a shorthand way some theologians talk about the cross, death, resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Holy Spirit, as one piece of story. I use it alot, but it occurred to me I probably have never explained it.


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