The sun rose this morning and many who share my faith, of any denomination or no denomination, found themselves at a Sunrise Service to remember one of the most sacred events that marks our faith as the hope we cherish.
Christmas is about the baby boy being born to a virgin mother, a blessed King who answered the long awaited hope of a nation, even if they did not all receive him as such. Christmas celebrated the baby, Easter or Resurrection is about that, the ending of the earthly life of a very young man for a crime that was not his, but our's, mine, if you believe in universal sin and ultimate forgiveness in Him alone.
Easter is about the man wrestling with the demands of his being. He meditated, he cried, he spent time with his friends, he walked outside and I'm sure had moments of crisis of faith about what he knew was coming. Then it came and for my faith, the period from Thursday-Sunday is more sacred than December.
It is not about the new clothes or the spring dinner or the egg hunts or anything that has become ritualistic. It is about remembering why this faith is important, why we hold onto the promise of resurrection even in the midst of the hell many of us face daily. Wars, famine, hurricanes, earthquakes, protests, hunger, death, corruption, greed - these have been the things that filled the air from last year to this and some of it happened in the "church" causing even more of a vacuum than the Earth felt on Good Friday so long ago, when He willingly gave up the ghost and the earth was silent.
I am a preacher's kid. I was born to a Catholic raised mother and a Baptist minister father. I spent my early years going to Mass with my very devout grandmother who was born and raised Methodist but married a very, very Catholic Creole man. The family church sits like a beacon on Grand Avenue across from what is sacred ground, the land that was my grandmother's home. Multiple generations of us hold onto the spirit of her faith and the faith of her mother-in-law, that French-speaking great-grandmother of mine who met her husband while teaching Catechism class. The faith runs deep into the sinew of my bones.
My memories of Easter where of shopping for new clothes, from head-to-toe, memorizing Easter speeches or scriptures, watching my step-mother bake the succulent ham and whip up the best pound cakes on Earth. Of my father telling us about the importance of the season and of us watching The Ten Commandments while sitting under a hair dryer with rollers in our freshly prepared hair. I remember it was going to bed early because we were to be at the Sunrise Service, even at 9 or 10, I felt the hushed toned of sacred prayers that were in appreciation of the sacrifice made on our behalf.
As the stirrings of the day will prepare my own children for a ritual similar to mine, except at our mega-church, there is no Sunrise Service, just four services since Saturday to accommodate the masses, I had to stop for a moment and think about the crisis of faith I've experienced.
Christ is my Savior, I believe in HIM with all my heart and soul. I've prayed the "sinner's prayer" many, many years ago. I've ministered, preached, taught, and studied this faith. I sat under the leadership of churches that later disappointed me in their judgment or lack of grace. I've been in denominations that believed that the "other" had no hope of salvation or eternal life - other cultures, other religions, other sexual orientation - even to the point of not showing love to family members. It has brought me hurt and shame to see the things happening to my grandmother's beloved Catholic church - even with ties so close to the Pope.
Then I stopped and was reminded that in the days leading up to Jesus' crucifixion, he stepped away from the organization called the church to meet with the people who would be the church. Give me Christ, keep the dogma the separates or preaches division or hatred or injustice or selection. Give me grace, HIS amazing Grace that saved a sinner like me, I once was lost but now I'm found, that is the hope of His resurrection, that we would be found in love, doing, acting, and giving.