I sat in an Easter service last night and the pastor said “Whatever the world says about you, the cross says you’re loved.” Often, in Christian circles, we use the phrase “the world” when we mean “those outside of us.” I sat in my chair on the balcony, looking down at all the people in the room dressed in their casual clothes, their Sunday best, their jeans and their dresses and I thought about how the people at the feet of the cross have always hurt me more than they’ve healed me. That the world has often been the only voice telling me I was enough, while the Church shook its head in disgust. If we look at communities around the world, I think we’ll see this trend holds true. That the church is the body going into places and communities and preaching how worthless they are. That they’re too gay, too sexual, too Indigenous, too Black, too angry, too happy, too sad to belong here. That, yes, we are all sinners but at least we’re working on it and you’re not. That, yes, we are all images of God, you’re just an uglier and duller one.
The principal miracle of Easter is that Jesus died and Jesus rose again and all of us get to live happily ever with him. But this miracle of Easter is not without its hard pill to swallow for those of us who do not feel safe around Christians. I spend a lifetime in sorrow from the hurt of Christians and my reward for surviving that is an eternity with them? That the people who took me to court to ensure they never had to serve me food will sit beside me at the feast. That the people who mocked my voice will join theirs with mine in refrains of Hallelujah. That the people who shamed me will drop their chains with mine.
I think about Jesus on the cross who cries out “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” The people who called Jesus slurs, who whipped at his body, who killed him to maintain political power didn’t know what they were doing? That all seems very intentional to me. That pain feels personal. And then, one or ten or fifteen or sixty years later, those people died and have spent the first part of eternity looking at his Jewish, brown, kingly face. And it isn’t weird or painful or hard or sorrowful for any of them.
I think about the Marys who preached the first Easter message to men sitting in the same pew as pastors who spent their whole life thinking and saying that women couldn’t speak to them.
I think about Jesus’ great-great-great-great-great grandmother knitting cloth in heaven with all the other sex workers and the suburban mothers who called them whores.
This, too, is a miracle of Easter. That we spend our whole lives beating each other to death with our theological correctness, with our political truths, and our heresy-labels to gatekeep the Kingdom we ourselves are immigrants to just to discover we all end up together for eternity.
The miracle of the tin roof is that one day I will sit with other Christians and it will not be like hiding from lightning. It will be like sitting on a porch swing on a summer day, listening to the way the rain hits the roof. You can keep your mansions and the piles of gold and the health, and the dried eyes. I’ll just take one day sitting with my people and knowing down deep in my bones I can stay.
Bryce Van Vleet is the #1 selling author of Tired Pages and Before We All Die Let’s Have One Last Chat by the Fireside. You can support him by clicking through blog posts or donating (scroll to the bottom of the page). Like him on Facebook or follow him on Goodreads.
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