The Cross in Easter

What do the cross and the resurrection have to do with our daily lives? Even when life is easy, it can feel complicated and poorly held together.

Like a toddler cranked up on too much sugar, our lives are inexact and barely manageable some days. And this is the ordinary life, the life T.S. Eliot measures in teaspoons. No, life is rarely simple; it is full of both large and tiny losses, and whether made of gold or mud, we grow weary and afraid, the whole earthen bunch of us.

But of course, there is the also big stuff, those shadowy places of great suffering. This includes cancer cells that have no brakes, wars that are perpetrated as something good and noble, all the suffering without cause. What of this darkness, when God seems absent and death is imminent? What kind of God can embrace both the ordinary pattern of our days as well as the horror of absolute darkness?

We are in the season of Easter, a time of burgeoning light and confident hope. Sure, we know Christ has risen, but we also know nagging worries: our homes are losing value, there is a war that no one really wants, and the earth can’t breathe. We know that riots due to hunger are increasing around the world, and we know that somewhere a teenage girl thinks she is of no value. The wounds of the crucified Christ are never far, even while we live with great hope.

And that is exactly what the cross is all about. It is the only thing that can encompass both the folly and forsakenness of our world. It reaches beyond the ignorance of the well meaning down to the very core of human suffering. It is the dark and tender work of God where one can meet the absolute abandonment of the other and yet it is also precisely the place whether the other can be found. The cross speaks to us of both shame and hope. The cross, where God gives everything, is the same place we receive everything.

The foolish, self-risking, love of the cross, this earthly mess into which God enters, tells us much about whom it is we worship. It tells us that God is madly in love with us. That though we are just clay and breath, though we live in darkness most of our days, we are beckoned into God’s future summoned toward resurrection hope. It tells us that the cross is more than one man’s death in response to sin, but an act of love so radical that our silly preconceptions of power are smashed in one self-giving moment that changes the world forever.

The Easter story we are given is that one day there will be a new heaven and earth. Through the cross and resurrection, dust and heaven are forever bound to one another in out-and-out promise. God has become incarnate in Christ, and in the cross and resurrection, death and sin and evil and all that separates us, is conquered through love. And now, the Holy Spirit proceeds before us to tell us that all is new, though not yet complete.

So how do we exist in this world of darkness and light? How do we maintain faith? There might be times when we cannot profess anything more than absence because life is too dark, too lonely. Yet this is exactly what the cross and the resurrection are all about. It is for us: for the darkness, for the mess, for the suffering, for the merely mediocre, for the foolishness, and for when we die. The foolishness of the cross is that God comes to us when we are sinners, and out of that love, takes on all our sins. The cross is our gift and story. It is the promise for the journey. The cross tells us we are not alone in sorrow, we are not abandoned when we fail.

It is the darkness that the Easter message shines so brightly. And we wait.