beneath the shadow

We've labeled one day in the year "Easter" and on it we remember the resurrection of Christ from the darkness of the grave. On that day the Lord of Life tore through the blank, heavy curtain of death---and in so doing, opened the way for those who trust in Him to follow. It is certainly a day to be remembered! In commemoration of Christ's resurrection a large cross was set up on the sanctuary platform of my church last weekend, swathed with purple cloth as a symbol of His majesty. It made a lovely backdrop to our Easter service. Yet the significance of Easter goes beyond one day a year. This significance was impressed upon me again this morning.

Today the friends and family of 39-year-old Holly gathered in our church sanctuary to celebrate her life and to mourn her death. It was a beautiful scene---glowing taper candles, dozens of flowers, hundreds of loved ones. Most beautiful of all to me, however, was the Easter cross.

 There it stood---still draped in the royal purple, surrounded by resurrection lilies. And so we mourned the loss of a daughter, sister, mother, friend while literally beneath the shadow of an empty cross, the sign of the Living Savior. 

Jesus said to the mourning Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life." That's our hope---on Easter and every day and today. 


Seven Stanzas at Easter
by John Updike

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.