In trying to live conscious of the ongoing celebration of Easter this week, I've encountered two circumstances that seem to oppose my efforts to maintain joyfulness at Christ's Resurrection, but upon closer inspection are precisely why the Resurrection offers joy to those who place their trust in Christ.
The first circumstance is that, since Resurrection Sunday, I've been laid low by illness. A low grade fever complete with chest congestion, cough, sinus congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and today the illness added another twist I'll not mention for those readers less interested in such details. Needless to say the power of the Resurrection is easily overshadowed by the veil of sickness, lethargy, and the necessity to survive the basic tasks of cleaning, feeding, clothing, and caring for a family of four boys seven and under without pandemonium.
The second circumstance is that I've been reading Barbara Tuchman's excellent book on the first month of WWI, Guns of August. It is a long, engaging, interwoven account of the figures and their decisions that led to war, drew it out for far longer than most expected, and (I've yet to read the end) may conclude on a note of deep sobriety. The incompetence, petty pride, juvenile natures of the men who pursued their objectives during the war is a sad tale of human corruption, all in the name of peace, salvation of humanity, and the obtaining the rightful place of X in the world. It is remarkable to me that Germany could have exhibited the sort of blind indifference to the full nature of their actions. It seems as though the more vibrant the Christianity of an earlier age, the more precipitous becomes the descent into idolatry and self-destruction; at least if Europe is any kind of litmus test for such a claim.
It would seem that such distracting and dark features would obscure the glory of the Resurrection, but quite the opposite has been the case. Looking through the discomfort of sickness and the distress of human atrocity at the risen Christ is the only reminder that these trials and tribulations are not purposeless agonies thrust upon us from out of the void, nor are the they History's slaughter bench toward self-actualization of the autonomous individual. Illness, pain, death, evil, pride, hubris, lethargy, lasciviousness, and all the other vices and dark certainties of life are a Great Curse, the power of which was destroyed forever in the Resurrection of the God-Man who both brings divinity close to man, and man close to the Divine.
It is a slow leeching, this power of the Resurrection. Enemies will continue to try and repulse it. Christians will continue to pretend they don't need it. The world will ebb and flow in its courses of greater and lesser acknowledgment of the King of Kings, but there is no overcoming the Great Fact of His Reign; there is no retreat from the wake of His host. The sooner we are able to submit ourselves to His gracious reign, the sooner we will find ourselves caught up in the realities of Resurrection power that are pressing heaven into this vast and universal globe of existence until it can no longer keep any darkness hidden, no corruption unconquered, no hurt un-mended, no joy unfulfilled.
Despair is dead.
Defeat is dead.
Death is dead.
Christ is Risen!