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~ Resurrection Celebration, 2005 ~

As of this writing, it was twenty seven years ago when I toured six European countries as part of a graduate program in environmental and culture studies. Interesting how certain events seem like they happened last month. My colleagues and I spent the first part of the excursion in Wales, a culturally and ecologically majestic land.

The Welsh word for “universe” is “bydysawd,” meaning “that which is baptized.” Baptized by whom? That question can have only one answer, and it isn’t John the Baptizer. “[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17, NIV).

Easter sunrise services are popular among Christian communities. We figure that’s because it’s the time of Christ’s resurrection. Let’s consider Psalm 57:8-11: “Awake my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.”

That is an Easter canticle written many centuries before Christ’s resurrection. We are called to awaken our souls and awaken the dawn, to pray for the exaltation of God even above the heavens and for His glory, His ineffable light, to bathe all the earth.

Another Celtic tradition tells of a woman who climbed a hill on Easter morning, when the sun dances in celebration of the resurrection of Christ. “The glorious gold-bright sun was rising on the crests of the great hills, and it was changing color—green, purple, red, blood-red, intense white, and gold-white, like the glory of the God of the elements to the children of men. It was dancing up and down in exultation at the joyous resurrection of the beloved Savior of victory.” (Carmina Dadelica, Alexander Carmichael, 19th century.) Christ’s resurrection made “all things new” (His words) and the elements of the dawn, from our sun to the creation of plants and animals, even the nucleus of every atom, every single blood cell in our bodies, every neuron in our brains, celebrates in song and dance the risen Christ. 

But why don’t so many of us not feel this? Eddin Attar, a Persian poet, explained, “For thirty years I went about seeking God. When, at the end of that time, I opened my eyes…I realized it was he who was seeking me.” St. Augustine also asserted we would not have sought God if God did not first seek us. In His incarnation, Christ sought us. After His resurrection, He sought us. Before His ascension, He promised to send the Holy Spirit to seek us. His disciples waited and sought nothing but safety and refuge. Then the Holy Spirit did find them and infused them with His light and inexplicable power and wisdom.

Christ is the concentration of all light. All the many words of prophecy, poetry, sermons, discussions, exegesis, are concentrated in the one Word, the Word St. John writes about: “In the beginning was the Word.” In the middle were the words of many people about the Word. In the end, there will be only the Word again.

In the beginning of human history, the Word was audible. We heard Him. Two thousand years ago, the Word became flesh, and some of our ancestors saw and touched Him, and was seen and touched by Him. But those numbers were small, since Christ was confined to a human body and to time and space. Now “all things are made new,” and the Life and Spirit of the Christ can touch and enter into all of us. We no longer have to seek Him in the wilderness or cut holes through our neighbor’s roofs to access Him through the crowds.

Do you believe in Jesus the Christ? A “yes” is no big deal and not necessarily salvific, as the Scriptures declare, “So do the devils believe.” Do you believe He resurrected after His redemptive death? Again, a “yes” is no big deal nor salvific.

You may also believe in love and freedom. What you believe in your mind means very little. The essential question is, “What is your experience of love and freedom?” And so, we reflect upon the ultimate question: What is your experience of the resurrection of Christ?

This weekend is indeed the perfect time to celebrate our experience or reflect upon and wonder about the resurrection’s distance from our daily living. Either the celebration or the reflection will open our hearts to the seeking of Christ for us and welcoming Him in us, delighting Him, and He, in turn, will delight us with His unconditional love and presence. And so, we all can celebrate Easter, as we are called to do according to where we are on our spiritual journey.

“Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:23-25).

Now that is an experience open to all people of all nations, of all faiths and religions! That is the Easter experience worth celebrating, or, at the very least, worth seeking.

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
~ Education, Research and Advocacy
   in the Christian Faith ~

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