Death and Resurrection Revisted – by Rev. Joe Ramsay

This Easter, for most of us, is unlike any Easter we have ever known. This Easter we are making sense of the Death and Resurrection story in the midst of a Human Crisis story.

Most of us have experienced some sort of personal crisis … sickness, the loss of a job, a car wreck. Sometimes the crisis has extended to our family and friends … the death of a child or a house fire. Some even may have experienced a community-wide crisis … a flood, tornado or plant closure. But for most of us, this is the first time we have experience a human crisis with such dramatic and immediate effect. There is no person, no community, no country that has been spared the impact of Covid-19. We are affected everywhere at all levels by the human suffering and death caused by this tiny virus. This year, the Good Friday story is everyone’s story and together as the human race we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The good news of the Gospel is that, because God was in Christ, because God takes on flesh, the Human Crisis story is also God’s story. 

This year, our Easter scripture comes from the Gospel of John. In this Gospel, it is very clear that Jesus is God in the flesh, and not merely human. In the Jesus of John’s Gospel, God is in our world, suffering at our hands — but remains fully God, the creator and giver of life. It is not Herod, or Pilate, or some virus that determines our life — it is God. When Pilate asks Jesus why he isn’t afraid of him, Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given to you from above.” So when we ask the question “Where is God in all of this?” for John the answer is clear. God is here in the midst of it all — suffering along with us, yet still the source of all that is. As always, from Death, God creates Life. So even at this Easter-like-no-other we proclaim, “O Death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” From darkness will come light, from suffering will come joy, from death will come resurrection.

What might resurrection look like for us weeks, months or years from now? For the truth is, this is not the first time we have experienced a Human Crisis. We have been living in a Human Crisis for a very long time, to which most of us are insensitive or ambivalent. We are destroying this planet which is home for all of us. Poverty and homelessness are not problems for just a few, they are human problems. About 1,000 humans die from Malaria every day and have been for a very long time.

I wonder what Resurrection will look like for us as God calls us forth from these tombs? What new life will God breathe into us and into our world? Will we start caring for our poor? Will we ramp up treatments for malaria and other killers in marginalized nations? Will we wake and hear the groans from our planet’s land, air and seas? Will factories that have been transformed to make life-giving products be retooled to serve the common good? Will human beings emerge from this more compassionate, more peaceful and more just?

We are an Easter People and so we live in the hope of Resurrection. In the darkest of times we sing: “This joyful Eastertide, away with sin and sorrow! My Love, the Crucified, has sprung to life this morrow: Death’s flood has lost its chill  since Jesus crossed the river; Lover of souls, from ill my passing soul deliver.”