While I’m not surprised so many non-Christian friends embrace Christmas with all its secular festivities, I am intrigued to find so many who are also wildly fond of Easter. As this holiday seems so specifically Christian in a theological sense, why does it resonate so much with non-believers or practitioners of other faiths?
Some enjoy the egg coloring, Easter egg hunts, Easter bunny, and the chocolates. To others Easter signals the end of winter and the warming promise of spring.
One friend said, “I’m not certain about all the details your faith story presents, but I like its bottom line.” I asked what he considered Easter’s “bottom line” to be. He said, “The bottom line is hope. Just don’t give up hope. Even when everything has gone wrong and you feel all captured and sealed up and despondent, victory might be just around the corner.”
My “spiritual but not religious” friend identified the essential bottom line take-away message of Easter for us all: “Don’t give up hope; victory might be just around the corner.”
In the biblical Easter story, it seemed that all hope was gone for those who believed that Jesus was Judaism’s long-awaited Messiah when they witnessed his murder by Roman soldiers on a Friday at mid-day and saw their hopes and dreams die, too. But the biblical accounts say that a few women went to give his body a proper burial on Sunday morning and found the tomb empty. The end had been transformed into a new beginning. In the pain and fear they experienced on Friday, they could not know that victory was just around the corner.
Years ago Duke University Divinity School professor Dr. Richard Lischer stated: “When Jesus emerged from the tomb, all his friends came out with him.” That’s the hopeful message that inspires us never to give up. Whatever tomb may hold us captive, from unhealthy relationships to economic disadvantage, from divisiveness to prejudice, “the present moment” is not the same as “the final word.”
New beginnings often spring out of painful endings. Who has not seen a person lose a job, only in time to discover a career? Or lose a relationship, only in time to discover a true and lasting romance? Or lose an exaggerated ego, only to discover an authentic life?
Good Friday is a painful reality. But just around the corner from the shadows of every Good Friday is the breaking dawn of Easter.
I am reminded of the Thomas Edison story, where he finally succeeded in creating a light bulb after a thousand and one attempts. When a reporter asked how it felt to fail a thousand times, Edison replied, “I did not experience a thousand failures. Instead, I took a thousand steps to success.”
Perhaps beyond each “failure,” there is the very real possibility of growth, enrichment and “success” in the essential and spiritual meaning of the word.
I believe in the religious hope associated with Easter, the hope of life beyond this life, a kind of life that death cannot touch. But for those who don’t believe, there’s still a powerful message in the ancient Easter Story. As my friend put it, “The bottom line is hope…even when everything has gone wrong, victory might be just around the corner.”
Originally published at medium.com