Indeed, we are Easter people and our song is alleluia! The joy of Easter is not only that the resurrection of our Lord Jesus triumphed over death, but that His resurrection floods us with hope that we, who put our faith in Him, will ultimately experience triumph over death. As disciples, the power of the resurrection is at work as the small deaths we experience transform us.
“Oohhh, the red screen of death,” the cellphone repairman’s resigned pronouncement came down like a guillotine for our teen-age daughter. I observed that day how she had to go through a small death, not so much a threat to her life, but to life as she knew it. Sadness, disorientation, anger inevitably resulted from her loss.
Recognizing that she is a teen, when the developmental phase is marked by active social participation, and that she belongs to Generation Z, those born into and living with the reality of smartphones, the small death was real for her and no less painful. I was tempted to challenge her on her attachment to the device but thought it would be as unfair as if someone were to challenge me on my attachment to refrigeration. This is life as we know it and sudden change is not welcome.
Small deaths usually accompany change, especially the involuntary kind, and no small suffering usually accompanies these lesser deaths. Change, whether they are unplanned or self-determined, demands an eradication of the “familiar” to make room for something “different”. A young mom with children was just diagnosed with cancer and is going through agonizing dread for herself and her family. Another mom is overwhelmed by the arrival of a new baby and the demands of her growing family. Graduating from college, a student anxiously faces uncertain next steps and unknown territories.
In the midst of a dilemma, we ask our children, “Which one of you is willing to make a sacrifice?” Even a small death is a harrowing and bitter pill to swallow. Our minds revolt and our stomachs lurch with repulsion. Disciples of Jesus are not immune to change, in fact, discipleship denotes precisely a life of transformation.
We are Easter people who believe that death is not the final ending. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again, this is the mystery of our Faith. This too is the mystery of our lives as followers of Jesus. The small deaths we suffer can be occasions for small resurrections. The mystery of mysteries that took place inside the tomb on the first Easter happens in our hearts when Jesus reigns on its throne.
He is the silent and hidden power that conquers death in us. Suffering decreases us to the point of extinction of our selves. Grace, on the other hand, raises us to new life and Jesus increases in us even as we continue to bear the wounds of our small deaths. As Easter people, the series of lesser deaths we undergo are no small deaths, and the series of lesser resurrections are indeed, no small resurrections. They mark our transformation from glory to glory that we may be wrought more and more to be like Jesus.
The much anticipated package arrived. As our daughter was opening it, I reminded her how sad she felt when her phone died. She quickly retorted, “It’s ok, I got a newer one!” Immediately plugging in her new phone to charge its battery, I asked her if she was happy with this one. She replied, “- ish!”
The joy of Easter overshadowed Jesus’ suffering and pain that came before it. The light overcame darkness. Life triumphed over death. We, an Easter people experience within us both death and resurrection, and with Jesus we too will triumph over death.
(This blog also appears in The Well.)