Wednesday, January 30, 2008

the road to easter and the fairy tale of the rose

My last blog was about Advent - I've been MIA for about two months - and now I'm writing my first blog of 2008 and already it's Easter. How come I'm into Easter so soon?

Well, it's not really that soon. Easter is very early this year. Palm Sunday comes before St. Patrick's Day (March 16th) and I can't remember the last time that happened. One of our community's study groups has already started examining the Easter Story in depth because if we don't start now we'll never get it done by Easter Sunday. It's only about six weeks away.

I think it's kind of cool that we're just done celebrating the Incarnation and here we are talking about Redemption. For obviously these are the critical moments of Christ's life on earth. We don't need to have months and months between them. A few weeks is sufficient.

If this were a fairy tale we would talk about the search for a magic blood that would save the Kingdom. And how the King had put up a reward of 10,000 gold pieces for whoever offered up that blood. And how people journeyed for months to come to the castle to let three drops of their blood fall upon a shriveled rose - if the blood was magic the rose would burst into life and dispel the cold and darkness and death overwhelming the Kingdom.

And, as fairy tales go, many would come, few would be chosen. In fact, none would be chosen. And the Kingdom would be at death's door. Until, by chance - or some heavenly design - a milkmaid's son, hauling some wood for the fire in the great hall, stopped to look at the shrunken rose, touched it, and pricked his finger on a thorn. Then became frightened as the rose swelled and grew and flashed red fire and began to burn away the cold and darkness. Perhaps he would stand rooted to the spot until the King came running and found him. Or perhaps the boy would flee and they would not find out whose blood had saved the Kingdom for days or weeks or months. Who knows?

The important thing is, a simple story like that can help us look at the familiar Easter Story with new eyes. We have heard the tale of the Cross so many times. And some don't want to hear it at all if they can help it, they want to skip right past the Cross with the dead body on it, the Cross of Good Friday, to the empty grave with no body in it, the Resurrection of Easter Sunday morning. But it's a funny thing - Jesus didn't tell us to remember his resurrection until he came again, he told us to remember his death.

He shed blood. Magic blood. Holy blood. Blood that could do things no other blood could do. Just as the Christmas baby was born to do things no other baby could do, and be someone no other baby could be - God.

So let Christmas and Easter be woven closely together this time around. Let the stories be told right on top of one another. Let stars and crosses and angels and stables and graveyards be intertwined. For really the story is one story, is it not? The greatest story ever told. Even if sometimes we have to tell it slant, as Emily Dickinson suggested, "tell the truth but tell it slant", so that maybe by doing so Easter won't be a ritual or a ceremony or just another holiday or a great chance to kick back. Maybe it will be an encounter with the supernatural. Maybe it will be one of the great God moments of my year and yours.

Because the God did die. And the blood did do what no other blood could do. And the baby was what no one else could be.