Easter: a breaking out, a triumph over fears and insecurities. Want to understand how that is possible?
If you've even been stalled in a crowded elevator, you know how uncomfortable that is. If you've ever been crushed in the crowd in a stadium, you know that it can be a bit scary. If you've ever been trapped in a New York City subway in a brownout, and gotten stuck underground — particularly on a busy Friday evening — you know that either panic or despair can quickly set in.
A lot of people suffer from claustrophobia to one degree or another. The word is from the claustrum ("a shut-in place") and Greek phobos ("fear"). It is the fear of having no escape and being closed in — especially in a small, confined space.
I've heard many people say that they have felt trapped in a dead-end job, a failing marriage or a house they can't afford. A lot of people feel trapped by circumstances. Some feel trapped by physical limitations, like illness or disability. Some feel limited by physical appearance, age or a lack of education. Most of us feel somewhat limited, trapped or as if we have obstacles that we cannot overcome. Some people feel trapped by grief, anger or regret. All these things leave us feeling limited. They hold us back. They make us feel powerless.
Easter reminds us of the beginning of something new, of a fresh start, of a time to triumph over our fears and insecurities. Easter offers a time to focus on the possibilities of life, rather than what we perceive as limitations. It is a time to trust that God through Christ has removed the barriers that hold us back, that keep us in fear or that close our hearts and minds.
It is the dawning of a new day, of a new life. The stone sealing Jesus' tomb was rolled away. Similarly, all that stands in our way — all that holds us back — is gone. The Easter story shows us that so much more is possible than what we allow ourselves to see. The Easter story empowers us, and we empower others to live fully into the vision of life that God has for us.
What do you want to do differently today? Do you want a more peaceful, loving relationship? What do you have to do to make that happen? Do you want better grades in school? Do you want to get out of debt or start to save for retirement? Do you want to make new friends or go out more? Do you want to give more of your time to make the world a better place? Do you want to tutor a child or become a foster parent or adopt an animal companion or feed the hungry? What do you want your life to look like from today on?
God has moved the rock away from the tomb. God has shown us through Christ that nothing is impossible. God has granted us freedom to live an unimaginable life, to live with joy and hope, to redefine relationships and how we see them, to let the lives of those people who have loved us and enriched our lives continue to shine out into the world. In the Resurrection story we are reminded that each new day brings with it new possibilities.
What if we took the rolling away of the stone of the tomb seriously? Could we end war? Could we end poverty? What could we accomplish for the good of our families, our communities and the world if we took seriously the Resurrection message that anything is possible, even to triumph over death? If we lived with that sort of confidence, what might we do? If we believed in ourselves and in God's love and promise with real passion rather than just an intellectual assent to the idea of what it means to follow Christ, what could we do with our lives?
What would a life without limits really look like? When we only see the obstacles in our lives, when we focus on the negative, what miracles do we miss? What opportunities do we forego?
The Resurrection story reminds us that it matters not where you've been or where you are today. It matters not if you are old or young, married or single, gay or straight, rich or poor, well-educated or barely educated. On Easter Sunday, we celebrate that through Christ, the rock has been rolled away, the obstacles have been removed, life as we know and understand it has been turned on its head, everything has changed, and nothing — not even death — stands in our way.
Teresa Angle-Young is providing articles about the Christian season of Lent and ways we all can join in the practice of Lent. She is a pastor who is simply seeking God, loving neighbors, and trying to follow Jesus.