Once I was part of a social justice movement that had an amazing leader. We had, the whole time in the movement, thought to ourselves that the only way we could win was by fighting hard. We had plenty of hate for those who would hurt us and our families, who told us we were worthless.
This leader was different. He said we did not have to fight or die. There was a third way. That we should recognize that the people we hated were simply people like us and that we should try to work with them as much as we worked among ourselves. I couldn’t believe how he could go up to our enemies and convince them that our way of life was just as worthy as theirs. He could get the people we’ve hated for so long, and people who hated us to join us. He could get them to do it because he saw their humanity and related to them. He deeply believed that the separateness in our lives, the us vs. them was false; that we were one human family pitted against each other for the benefit of a few.
I say this movement *had* an amazing leader because he was killed. He was so wise. So smart. So talented. To be killed like that meant that people wouldn’t listen to what he had to say anymore.
Someone in our movement figured out a way to keep the message alive. He said that when there were two or more of us discussing what we’d learned from our leader, it meant he was there. That his ideas were so potent and powerful that it we could feel him in the room with us. He came back from the dead. Not like a zombie, but like his real flesh and blood self, that breathed the same air with us to say “Be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves”. Which is a real paradox you know, but our leader always talked to us like that, in paradox, in parable. He understood that people are paradoxes themselves.
At any rate, you’ve probably figured out by now that I’m talking about Jesus, and am writing an interpretation of the resurrection in the present tense. One that, to me, makes a lot of sense. While I am fairly agnostic as to if Jesus *literally* came back from the dead, I do understand the metaphor. Its power to keep people alive beyond the grave.
I’ve lost loved ones too. And I want to keep them alive. I haven’t known anyone as brilliant as Jesus, but I have felt the presence of my ancestors when I read their words and look at their photos and know what they did for me. Even if they didn’t know me. And without this remembering, our histories would be lost to us.
Without the resurrection, the man named Jesus who came up with a third way, a human way of relating to everyone by decreeing us all children of the same God – well, our history would be lost to us. So let us remember this holy week for Christians, and give thanks and praise that they came up with a way to remember someone who spent his life trying to heal humanity using religion. Let us try to do the same.