Meaning of Easter

April 4, 2007 at 6:58 pm Leave a comment

 This week is the focus of Christianity. While the Easter Story is the same for literalists and liberals, they take meaning from different perspectives. Which view coincides with God’s intent?

The Easter Story stage was set Palm Sunday with Jesus’ celebrated entrance into Jerusalem. This week sees Jesus angry at the temple; his popularity causes the temple rulers to devise a way to neutralize him; he is passed like a hot potato among the secular and religious rulers and we finally witness his angst and death. The latter part we call the Passion. Remember that very gory movie? Whewwww…..

“The Passion of the Christ” movie takes the events portrayed in the bible very literally. I think it’s safe to assume that the cruelty in the movie was amplified for shock and symbolic effect but even reducing the cruelty by 90% would still make it horrible and un-human. The literal Jesus surely suffered a grizzly fate and all as the ultimate sacrifice for the failings of humanity. Jesus’ shocking death is supposed to make us feel guilty, hopefully enough to heed His teachings and change our ways. Christ’s resurrection is the undeserved forgiveness and release of guilt that is the free gift of the Spirit.

I class myself as a Progressive Christian. I see the “emerging church” as the movement of the Christian “brand” of spirituality away from the literal and towards the allegorical.

My belief is that Jesus was, in fact, a real and historical person. The Spirit within him that people called “The Christ” was real and palpable. The same nascent Spirit that is within each one of us. The Spirit within Jesus exemplified the perfection of the Spirit we are capable of attaining. The historical Jesus suffered the same cruel death as the Easter story Jesus. What happens after death is the sticky point between literalists and liberals. We are familiar with the traditional story of the empty tomb and the subsequent appearances of the bodily resurrected Jesus. Literalists see this as confirmation of the promised final atonement sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Liberals tend to see the Easter story as one of bodily mortality and the dawning of our awareness of the immortal Spirit. The fine point of the debate is the bodily resurrection. Was it real or symbolic? This forms two camps of belief but to what end?

I think liberals tend to miss the passion of this peak of the Christian year. They perhaps focus more on celebrating the immortality of the Spirit and miss the opportunity of somber introspection and coming close to the Spirit through a truly humble heart.

The literalists perhaps tend to miss out on the forgiveness, freedom from guilt and rebirth aspect. Hey tend to dwell on unworthiness and continually mourn the horrible sacrifice made.

Regardless of which camp you may be in, the resurrection signals that Christ is alive. Whether taken literally or allegorically it is the same message. The Spirit lives and is with us, ready to teach, guide, comfort and love. Ultimately both literalists and liberals (and the range of those between) are working to the same end, that of loving each other as Christ demonstrated God’s love for us thereby hastening the Realm of the Spirit which is God’s intent.

As Easter People, let’s focus on the unity of that Good News message rather than promote division. Christ lives!

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Entry filed under: Wrestling With God.

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