Jesus Radicals Blog 2005-2017
By: Sarah Lynne Gershon
Resurrection Sunday is usually a day of celebration. Churches around the world rejoice in the raising of Jesus Christ, singing songs of death defeating Death and breaking fast with indulgent food, but I have not been swept up in this rejoicing. As I reflect on this day I have felt strongly led into a spirit of confession and repentance. I must confess to you that I don't really believe in the resurrection. I don't believe that life has conquered death, that love overcomes fear, or in the power of the Spirit of God to overcome injustice. Likewise, I suspect that the vast majority of USAmerican Christians, particularly the white majority, don't believe in it either. Our faith is weak, and we regularly betray our professed faith in both our personal and political lives.
Easter is a day of celebration, but I cannot participate in a celebratory farce when so many USAmerican Christians cast their ballots for fear: embracing a delusional sense of physical security rather than offering refuge to tormented Syrians, choosing misguided economic security rather than camaraderie with undocumented immigrants, engaging in war, death, and oppression with the pretense of peace and justice.
We have no faith in the resurrection. Our faith is in upward mobility, savings accounts, and stock options. Our faith is in missiles and drones. Our faith is in mutually beneficial social ties, security systems, and the ability to hold onto a decent job.
This is my confession, and I suspect it could be yours as well. I do not trust in the resurrection enough to trade my social, economic, or physical security for the Kingdom of God. I will give concessions here and there, but I like Ananias and Sapphira, continue to hold back.
This day calls, not for celebration, but serious reflection. Reflection particularly on the saints who did have faith in the resurrection. Take Oscar Romero for example. Romero was appointed archbishop of El Salvador because his age and social security suggested a sure adherence to conservative principles. Yet when he witnessed the death and suffering of the Salvadoran people, he risked both his social standing and his life speaking against their oppression. He was assassinated on March 24, 1980 while he was giving mass. Oscar Romero believed in the resurrection. When he spoke of his likely death he said, "If they kill me, I will be resurrected in the Salvadoran people."
On Easter I also like to reflect on a letter written by Subcomandante Marcos. It comes to mind every year around this time. When we hear stories about living dead men, like Lazarus and Jesus. Marcos wrote it from the perspective of a dead Subcomandante Insurgente Pedro, killed in combat January 1, 1994.
I was saying that through this slit I could see the sky. Helicopters and airplanes were flying across it... They did not know, but I saw them, I saw them and watched them. I also laughed. Yes, because in the end, those airplanes and helicopters come here because they're afraid. Yes, I already know that the dead always cause fear, but these airplanes and helicopters are afraid that us dead are going to walk again...
I have little hope in the dead, and little hope in the living dead as well it seems, but I feel a stirring and a sense of awe in the people who do: awe, sorrow, hope and trepidation when I learn of the life and death of martyr and peace activist Micheal Sharp. Incredulity when I read of the way early Anabaptists and Quakers willingly suffered for their faith. Humbled and uplifted by the image of Bree Newsome climbing the flag pole in South Carolina.
I believe we are all called to be saints such as these, and that the Spirit of God is waiting for each of us to attend to the hope and faith she offers. I also believe the time is ripe for revival. There are already communities sounding the call: immigrants who continue to work and care for their friends and family in the face of deportation, bold transgender truth tellers, who despite a culture of paranoia and animosity, continue to publicly lay theirselves bare, and courageous black women who resist the profiling and scapegoating of their brothers and sisters. The pall of death leaves their faces as they embrace the life of God, and I can hear their call: "awake oh sleeper, awake from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." I pray that the Spirit will awake us as well, that she will interrupt our mundane death march, that we will also find faith, hope and courage in the Resurrection, and the will to act accordingly.
Sarah Lynne Gershon lives at the Bloomington Christian Radical Catholic Worker. She is a full time mama and sometimes massage therapist. Her hobbies include fiber arts, baking, and fermenting.
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