Happy Easter! I hope you are having an Easter filled with family, joy, and Jesus. We have been gifted with truly beautiful time around these parts.
Our wiggly two-year old was able to attend Holy Thursday and Easter mass, and I am always amazed by how much of these celebrations she is able to absorb. After Holy Thursday, every time she heard the word Jesus she would bend to touch our feet and say in the perfect toddler voice, “wash.” On Good Friday we talked about how Jesus died because he loves us so much. Drawing on past experiences of death like The Lion King and a great-grandfather passing.
Then came Easter, how was I going to explain the Resurrection to my daughter? I didn’t know if I could totally explain it to myself. We started to use the language “rise from he dead”, but it didn’t seem to ring any bells. Then all of the sudden out of the mouth of babes, Anna said “up”. She found a word in our explanation that made sense.
We would ask her what happened to Jesus and she would gesture with her hand and say joyfully with her mouth “up!” How simple, how perfect, how truly wise.
The resurrection really does seem like a big idea to understand. Jesus’ dead body disappeared from the grave. The very heavy stone was rolled away, his burial clothing scattered on the ground of the tomb. Then he began appearing to the disciples and Israelites almost like a ghost, but not a ghost, because it was his body, but sometimes people didn’t recognize him and he could leave locked rooms without going through the door. *gasp* I mean it is a pretty big concept to grasp. Anna boiled it down to one word for us, up.
Doesn’t this one word truly capture the meaning of the resurrection and the Gospel. The God of the universe chose to die a brutal and excruciating death on the cross. Then the stone was rolled over his grave seeming to signify the world’s victory over the Messiah. But wait… Jesus is gone, Jesus got up! The grave couldn’t hold him. Death and the sin of the world couldn’t keep him down. Jesus got up!
Jesus, mistreated and downtrodden, filled with all goodness, couldn’t be defeated by the abuses of the world. He got up. This image of Christ’s resurrection paints both a picture of strength and a model for life.
Anna didn’t (or probably couldn’t at this stage) say, “Jesus stayed up and was always up.” Because before Jesus could get up, he had to fall down. Now as God, Jesus understood the whole plan, but he suffered and struggled in his human nature. This suffering is the common, if not constant state of human life. See for example the agony in the garden, the quoting of Psalm 22 on the cross, “my god, my god, why have you abandoned me,” and the true bodily pain of the scourging, crown of thorns, being nailed to the cross, and his body beginning to suffocate to death.
To understand the power of Jesus getting up, we first have to consider the significance of the fall. I am sure this is an experience that all of us can relate to in someway, even little Anna. There are times in life where we fall down, physically and emotionally. Times when we feel discouraged, inadequate, and forsaken. This pain is real and awful, and natural to want to avoid.
But the most extraordinary thing about the example of Christ is that our pain, struggles, and failings do not have to be pointless. They will still hurt and cause repercussions, but when united with the grace of Christ we can get back up. We can connect our suffering with Christ’s cross for the sake of the world.
Now with the help of little Anna, I hope to hear her voice shouting “UP!” in the moments when I am low or tired from my calling as an employee, wife, mother, or disciple. Reminding me of both the power and example of Christ’s resurrection. The miraculous event I am called to take part in each day. I am the daughter of the most high King, nothing can keep me down.
Happy Easter, from our family to yours!