Wake Up, Dead Man

April 23, 2011

The heights of ecstasy don’t amount to a whole lot if a trough doesn’t precede them. That understanding is such an innate thing in us that our language is peppered with cliches to support it. “The darkest hour is just before the dawn,” “Can’t have light without shadow,” etc., whatever. But the basic fact of the matter is that we can have no way to comprehend unadulterated joy and happiness if we don’t have some baseline that is worse.

Sometimes I wonder whether or not, during Holy Week, in the lead-up to Easter we lose sight of the necessary trough. Really, this day sucks. Except it’s awesome. Jesus is dead. In the ground. And for all we know, he’s not coming back. Easter hasn’t happened yet, and we have no way of knowing if it will. This is a trough, and I don’t think we can understand how earth-rending Easter is if we don’t adequately meditate on what it means for Jesus to be dead and gone.

Is it worth it? If there’s no resurrection, are the Beatitudes still the best way to understand how it’s all going to work out in the end? Is pursing peace at all times still the best way to live? Is doing for the least of these ultimately the way to be more honestly human? “Tell me, tell me the story. The one about eternity, and the way it’s all going to be.” Dying on a cross is shameful, and that death would seem to signal that Jesus was, in fact, wrong. Good people don’t win. Peacemakers don’t ultimately carry the day. Attempting to loose the bond of oppression only results in being violently put down.

So he’s dead, and we have to decide, do we still want to try to be like him? And we sit there. whispering, as the profound theological darkness of Holy Saturday closes around us, “Wake up, dead man.”

One Response to “Wake Up, Dead Man”

  1. Jessica said

    Well put. A couple years ago, I missed out on both Maunday Thursday and Good Friday services and Easter just didn’t feel right.

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