For many Christians, Easter is a high holy day – it’s the religious bedrock that not only anchors them in their faith, but also shapes and governs their view of the world. I’m one of them.
My passion for Easter is like that of Christian author C.S. Lewis. In his 1945 essay “Is Theology Poetry?,” Lewis expressed his passion for the whole of Christianity thusly: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
That “everything else,” for me, is learning to see those at the margins of society.
It is at those margins where you see injustice being done. At the margins one can honestly critique the oppressive structures in society that keep us wounded as a people, and also help heal – both for the oppressed and the oppressor.
Easter gives me the opportunity to consider Jesus. Jesus’ death forces me to consider his life on the margins of society and the events that led to his crucifixion. Each year I glean new insights.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus was unquestionably a threat to the social and political status quo. Viewed as a religious threat because of his iconoclastic views and practice of Jewish law, and as a political threat to the Roman government because of his popularity among the poor and oppressed, Jesus was nailed to a cross – an attempt by those in power to eliminate him.
It would be an egregious omission to gloss over the unrelenting violence that took place during Jesus’ time, especially in light of the ongoing violence in today’s society toward people of color, women, Jews, Muslims, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, to name a few.
It is sometimes said in many traditional Christian churches that “Jesus died for our sins.” Such language masks the reality that Jesus died “because of our sins” – our intolerance, our hatred, our violence.