Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sermon For the Non-Christian

Growing up in a non-Christian household, Easter was a little bit more baffling than Christmas. American culture has not as effectively defined Easter as an American cultural holiday with an identity outside of its religious context as it has for Christmas.

While there is the bunny, and the Easter Egg hunt, the baskets and Cadbury Eggs (which rock) you don’t really find as many non-Christian’s celebrating Easter as non-Christians who celebrate Christmas.  Easter is a religious holiday and remains closely tied the traditions of the holiest week in the Christian faith.

I’m a solid Chris-easter. My wife is Catholic and I’m happy to go to these important services in the year with her. Often I will attend other services throughout the year especially if my wife is participating as a cantor and singing for the service.

So what do I get out of going to church?

Well, the rituals, the stand up, sit down, kneel, responsorial chants and sitting their awkwardly in the pews when the entire congregation goes up to get communion is frankly, pretty meaningless to me. However in the readings and the homily there’s some potential for me to get something out of the experience.

For me the Bible is literature. I respect that it is a document of faith for many people but it’s not that for me. So when I hear the readings and listen the interpretation of how this book can apply to my life, it’s rather fascinating. Because while it may seem derogatory to think of The Bible as a non-secular sense as piece of literature, to me it's not because I view it as one it’s one finest of literature I've ever read.

Think about it, y’know how revolutionary Kurasawa’s Rashoman was because it showed the same story from multiple perspectives? The New Testament has four Gospels telling of Jesus from different perspectives. Each has different nuances and emotion but work together to tell of one of the most compelling lives in human culture.  How many books have your read that do that?

This whole last week led up to the central event of Christian faith, Jesus being crucified and resurrected. There are so many compelling layers to this story. The way that the same people that called to crucified Jesus embraced him week earlier, the betrayal of Judas, the way that Jesus accepted his fate, and the symbolic and literal meaning of Jesus’ resurrection. But the most powerful and relatable part of this story is the fourth station of the cross after Jesus’ falls for the second time carrying the cross and meets his mother.

Yes, this story is about the son of God but it’s also about the son of Mary. Within the suffering of Mary, I find an almost primitive response. Few of us can every truly relate to what Jesus went through but most of us have seen the tears of mothers forced to watch their children suffer.  Few mothers in literature bore that as much as Mary. If we believe that Jesus died for our sins, it cannot be overlooked that Mary mourned for our sins.

We are all connected. Everything we do has an effect on the people around us. When Jesus died the people who loved him went incredible trauma and pain. And when he was resurrected, the glory they felt was indescribable. I don’t know if Jesus’ actions, the suffering he went through had an effect on humanity but I know that had an effect on his mother.

I love my mom but I don’t think we should live life thinking about how every thing we do effects our mothers. However if we can use that lens in which we view our mothers, and translate that into love of all of people on this earth we will realize the power we have to influence the people in our lives

If we think of every person we effect in our life as the way that Jesus’ life effected Mary, the world would be a very different place.

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