Today’s post is somewhat different than my usual fare, as I am putting down some personal thoughts about Easter. I share this blog with my friends and colleagues, and I hope they will indulge me in my divergence from our general topic.
I just heard from a colleague in Slovakia, who tells me that this country virtually shuts down for five days of celebration around Easter. Despite our increasingly secular orientation, we still close our markets on Good Friday. Though Easter has become oriented toward the Easter Bunny, candy, and having special sales in stores, it still has not matched the commercial appeal of Christmas.
In part, the Easter holiday period is somewhat uncomfortable -- even for Christians. Good Friday involves a gruesome death, betrayal, and abandonment. These are not things we like to remember, but we must, because the celebration of resurrection and the promise of eternal life associated with Easter Sunday doesn’t make sense without them.
Regardless of our beliefs, we must all face death, which indeed sets a parameter to our earthly pursuits. I believe our life and work on this earth are important, and should never be dismissed lightly. But I also believe that all of us must grapple with the reality that something more is at stake. Let me share a few passages on this topic from a theologian I have come to admire very much. (Thanks goes to my pal, Rusty Reno, who introduced me to this work.)
“Death is the great interruption, the acid which dissolves the foundations of the towers we build to the sky. At the end of all our striving and building and working there is a final and inescapable passivity, a point at which our power ceases. At the end of all our explanations and justifications and the idle chatter behind which we hide from reality, there is a final and inescapable silence, a point beyond which we have no more to say. At the end of all or gathering and acquiring and possessing, there is a final and inescapable poverty, a moment in which everything we have is taken from us.
That impotence, that silence, and that poverty do not simply wait for us at the end of life; they reach into life itself, subverting our achievements, making us uneasy and anxious, frustrating our projects. … As death reaches into life, we are never without a reminder that we cannot ourselves give fulfillment to our lives; and finally this reminder becomes unmistakable and impossible to ignore. … Finally, there is an end to us, and faced with that ending there is nothing we can do or say, except cry out to the Lord.”
David S. Yeago, The Faith of the Christian Church
I hope this passage provides some thought-provoking material as you contemplate the events of Easter. I’ll be back on track with some economic trends and related stuff next week.