I consider myself a realist, which is to say somewhere between pessimism and optimism. For all the horror and human achievements of the last century, I’m not convinced—15 years in—that this one will turn out much different. For all that I look forward to in the years ahead, I wonder darkly about what the world will look like to my aging grandchildren in the year 2100. Might the end of civilization be clearly in sight for them, or will breakthroughs in technology, politics and human relations pave a way to greater love and peace, prosperity and harmony?
Is the drought in California another sign of a tipping point approaching after which we may not be able to recover? São Paulo is in worse shape. What will coastal flooding and extreme weather tell us over the next 25 years?
Is it me, or has the news of extremism, racism, exceptionalism, wealth disparity, corruption, violence, persecution, and the seemingly never-ending, often escalating conflict in the Middle-east been especially bad these last many months?
Maybe pessimists call themselves realists because they don’t want to admit it. I have to say that I have my moments of despair and lack of hope.
For my lapses into hopelessness, I remain a person of faith who has journeyed through Lent and have come to Holy Week. Tonight we begin to rehearse the holy drama we know well, that for all the bad news in the story, for all the terrible things that happened to Jesus, kindness, compassion and forgiveness prevail. This trinity of being will confront the world of power and authority. A disproportionate section of each gospel is given to the end of Jesus’ life and we remember that in less than a week Jesus was arrested, tried and executed.
And yet Easter comes. We believe that in spite of all the news and evidence to the contrary, God’s Word and power made manifest in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection will prevail. As impossible as it can seem, I hope and believe that Martin Luther King Jr. was right—that the long arc of history is toward freedom, equality, kindness, justice, and love.
And so we become fools for Christ because Jesus was still loving and forgiving even as fellow human beings did their worst. Because of Easter we dare to trust that the resurrection declares God’s ultimate authority and power. Death did not have the last word. The control of empire, hatred, cruelty, and bigotry cracked on that dark Friday because three days later, there was Easter.