For those of us in church world, Easter is the pinnacle of all days, the day our faith hinges on. But truth be told, of all the major Christian holidays, Easter just has never resonated with me as much as some of the others. Maybe it’s because Easter decorations—with all the pastels, bunnies, and baby chicks—are notoriously terrible that make me love it less. But if I’m being honest, my hang up with Easter is less about the décor and more about the tendency we have as Christians to isolate Easter and all it represents from the bigger story it’s a part of.
Easter is all victory and resurrection, overcoming and surprise endings. What’s not to love? The only problem is, I’ve discovered as I’ve gotten older and witnessed more life that, “victory” and “overcoming” doesn’t always sum up what being a human is like. And while we all enjoy coming out on top, our lived experience tells us that, most of the time, that just isn’t the case.
So, yes, I love Easter, because it represents how it will all eventually turn out. But these days, I’ve started to resonate more and more with Good Friday. Because let’s face it.
We live in a world with far more Good Fridays than we do Easter Sundays.
All of us can relate to Friday.
Sunday’s take a little more imagination.
And I think that’s okay. Because the miracle of the Easter weekend is in more than just a dead man coming back to life. The miracle is that God would choose to die at all, suffer the indignity and humiliation, take on the pain and loneliness.
In other words, the miracle of Easter is that God would stoop down before being raised up.
And that is no small thing.
I read something not long ago that resonated with me and this very idea. A spiritual teacher commented on our tendency to pray “Almighty God” above anything else. But the thing that may distinguish Christianity from so many other faith traditions is Jesus’ vulnerability—as the Son of God; his willingness to take on human form, to suffer, to grieve, to die. Because of that, this teacher suggested we try praying a different way. What if instead of “Almighty God” we prayed, “All Vulnerable God”? What if, instead of exclusively elevating God’s power and bigness and victory, we spent more time with Jesus’ humanity, better grasping his compassion, empathy and solidarity? What if we did that because we understand that on our darkest days, when Easter feels an impossibility, we remember Jesus once felt that same way too?
In a world of more Good Friday’s than Easter Sunday’s, I need a vulnerable God who is with me in it, just as much as I need an almighty God who has conquered it.
Easter Sunday is coming. Literally and metaphorically. The day on the calendar where we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus that’s already happened and the resurrection of all things deemed dead and broken that’s coming. Our faith hinges on that day and what it represents.
But for all the days leading up to that one, for all the Friday’s we experience before the Sunday we know is coming, we have a God who gets it. And for those of us who need a God well acquainted with grief in this season, I wrote this prayer for us. We worship a God who overcame death. Yes. But also, a God who experienced it, and sometimes that’s the message we need more than anything else.
All vulnerable God, you know what it’s like to be us.
“I’m scared,” we say.
“I understand,” You respond.
“It hurts,” we confess.
“I remember,” You assure.
“It’s lonely,” we confide.
“It was for Me too,” You acknowledge
“It’s not fair,” we assert. Desperate. Afraid. Mad.
“No,” You agree. “It’s not.”
All vulnerable God, who chose skin and bones and heartache and fear. Who preferred the risk of closeness to the safety of distance. Who traded the glory of heaven for the gore of the cross.
You know what’s like living in these bodies that betray us and let us down, so that even when it doesn’t get better, we don’t have to be alone.
All vulnerable God, that is love.
You have been there, you are here, you understand.
All vulnerable God, you know.
You know. And it is good.
may we pray to an Almighty God and an all-vulnerable God,
may we celebrate victory over death, and solidarity in death,
may we worship a God who conquers the worst the world has to offer, and a God who experienced the worst first hand,
may we people of both Friday and Sunday, because Jesus was.
And may the hope from both God’s presence in the worst and God’s overcoming of the worst, be enough to carry us through.