On Easter morning, I can’t help but remember that this Lenten season began on an Ash Wednesday marked by unthinkable violence at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
The image of a grieving Parkland mother with the ashes still visible on her forehead is something that will not easily escape my mind and my heart.
It’s always struck me that according to the Christian faith tradition, Jesus’ resurrected body was still marked by the wounds of the cross.
His resurrection wasn’t a reconstruction and a whitewashing of the past, but a tangible manifestation of God’s forward-looking redemption for the human race.
God’s Easter redemption turns the world upside down. It puts on notice every powerful leader on earth that their rule has an expiration date, because a new kingdom with a new king is breaking into our midst.
In this new kingdom, hierarchies are subverted, concentrated power is decentralized, and prodigal children are welcomed home.
In this new place of mercy, the last are first, the poor are blessed, and enemies are loved. Black lives matter here. Gay, lesbian, and transgender lives matter here; and so too do the lives of women, refugees, the imprisoned, the unborn, and anyone else who suffers dehumanization, exclusion, and injustice.
Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Two thousand years have domesticated and sanitized these strange and radical words.
The disciples’ first reactions to this news were remarkable. You can feel their excitement jump off every page of the New Testament.
They so badly wanted to share the impossible news that Jesus was raised from the dead and liberation for the human race was won. Mary Magdalene ran. Peter ran. John ran. Was everyone in the Gospel a sprinter?
That grieving mother and those Parkland students ran too. They ran to Tallahassee and Washington to speak up for the dignity of each and every human life.
For some in their flesh, and all in their hearts, the Parkland children carried the wounds of their Ash Wednesday misery, but their very presence reminded us that the ‘Easter Alleluia’ we sing today is both praise and protest.
It was a sign of redemption even in the midst of Lent.
Hope then isn’t a spiritual thing or a reflective exercise; it’s undeniably physical. It’s the thing of Easter Sunday runners.
Two thousand years later, the promise of Easter has not lost its power. The risen Jesus, then as now, invites us to live in this world as if it is somehow a different world.
Because in the end, it is.