We held our breath. Our priest shouted: Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Joy erupted. We all shouted back: He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
And then, bells. Hundreds of bells, sets of car keys, pots and pans, all clamoring together. Shouts and whistles and cheering and clapping. That priest, like a child on Christmas morning, sprinting around the altar. The great noise! Can you imagine, being forbidden from speaking “alleluia” for the entire Lent? It was like joy rose from the grave.
Joy had risen from the grave. We received the Eucharist, and we went on singing and dancing. The whole church danced. Priests and deacons, children, and adults, held hands and danced around the aisles. Jesus rose from the grave and we welcomed his reign with shouts and dancing. It was joy at its most uninhibited. My Lord and my God!
Is Jesus real?
Easter confronts us with the Jesus who has all things under his feet. Easter tells us that he has already won. Jesus our Pantocrator has defeated sin and death, pain and suffering, and all evil forces. Nothing in this life remains to be feared.
When everyone around you is suddenly enlivened by the resurrection, it’s hard not to believe. But if it’s true, it’s not just true during those few hours of the Easter Vigil each year. If it’s true, I really have nothing to fear. Not poverty, disease, death, not even ridicule. I could give up everything and still have everything. I still win, because Jesus won.
Jesus (and everything he implies) was never so real as that night. But it hadn’t just been that night, or that week, as beautiful as they were. Some three years ago, during my days of deepest depression and despairing of God’s absence, I walked into Church of the Resurrection for the first time, and saw the joy on our rector’s face, and I believed in God. You can’t make joy up.
These moments of epiphany are powerful, but I am desperate for them to begin closing in on my everyday life. Most days, I cannot see God, and I forget. I forget who really won this world, and what my life means because of it. Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Oh Lord, help my unbelief.