Keep Celebrating

I hope that Easter has stayed with you this week.  I wish that I was one of those who could say that they celebrate Easter every week.  But I can't.  Perhaps I will grow closer to that ideal.  But for now, I am blessed to have reminders.  Church signs that declare: "He is risen."  Crosses draped in white or covered in flowers.  It is good to celebrate.  I'm reminded of NT Wright's suggestion that, for the week of Easter, morning prayers should be preceded by champagne.

Here's a celebration poem by John Updike called "Seven Stanzas at Easter," from his collection, Telephone Poles and Other Poems.  Updike takes on our tendency to make a parable or myth out of Jesus' resurrection.  His point is that the strength of the Easter story is that Jesus was raised bodily from the dead-hence the warning, "Let us not mock God with metaphor."

He is at his most powerful in reminding us that our deaths are not a metaphor (stanza 5).  They are all too real.  And they require a real resurrection.  Like the one that God performed for Jesus and will perform for us.

So if your Easter hope has faded some.  I hope it will be renewed today.  Happy Easter everyone.

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that - pierced - died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck's quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.