There are two worship services a year that my spouse and I always attend for the other. I go to his temple for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. He comes to my church for Christmas and Easter. It is a fair trade, but Easter is particularly challenging. Theologically and spiritually, Easter is where we diverge.
For my spouse, Easter marks the historical moment Christians use to justify persecuting and excluding others. In his mind and heart, today is inextricably linked to two thousand years of vile atrocities done in the name of the resurrected Christ. He thinks about the council of Nicaea and how contrived the divinity of Jesus seems in that context. The message of Jesus' life and the aftermath of Jesus' death are too incongruous for him to reconcile. As he says, "this is where you [Christians] lose me." I can't help but empathize as I ponder the same thoughts. Despite this, I still feel overwhelming joy each Easter morning.
For me, celebrating Easter is celebrating love. Big love. World changing, sacrificial, radical love Jesus showed us how to share. Easter is also about hope, especially hope for humanity because Jesus was human. Maya Angelou sums up my feelings about hope at Easter in her talk on Oprah's Master Class when she said, "I would like everybody to think of a statement by Terance. The statement is 'I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me.' If you can internalize the least portion of that you will never be able to say of an act, a criminal act, 'I couldn’t do that.' No matter how heinous the crime, if a human being did it, you have to say 'I have all of the components that are in her or in him. I intend to use my energies constructively rather than destructively.' If you can do that about the negative…just think about what you can do about the positive.” I take away two things from this statement. First, I am as capable of persecuting others as those who persecuted Jesus, tortured him and hung him on a cross. It also means that I can aspire to be great. If Jesus could love those who persecuted him, love lepers and prostitutes and thieves, then I can love anyone. Like the hymn says, "Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart." Easter reminds me there's hope.
My spouse and I see and experience this holiday in diametrically opposed ways and yet, this morning, he came to church and stood by me while I shouted, "Hallelujah!" I listen to why this holiday is hard for him. He listens to why it inspires me. His sorrow is my sorrow and my joy is his joy. We allow the feelings to coexist on this day. We listen, we share, and we show up. For us, this is how we make it work.
Of course, bunny cake, jelly beans, and ham biscuits help, too.