During the 50 days of Easter, we remember the resurrected Christ, who pauses to dwell in humanness for a bit before ascending into the heavens.
With the stink of death still lingering in the air, our journey through Lent and Easter gives us a near-death experience without having to enter the grave ourselves. So what will we do as a church, as individuals in response to this life changing journey? As we shed the garments that kept us entombed, how shall we live in the world?
We pray weekly for daily bread, but Christ asks us to treat every person in need as if they are as sacred and as worthy of help as God’s own child. We ask God to be present at our meals, but Christ asks us to sell or give up our possessions every time someone is in need.
Is it about giving away stuff? Sometimes. But Christ reminds us not to put faith in stuff that rots or molds.
Is it about praying the right way and thinking the right thoughts? Sometimes. But Christ reminds us that praying fancy loud prayers is of less use than praying in secret. Or more simply, we cannot put our faith in words and feelings that might change.
So, what is the standard that Christ calls us to?
The whispers and glimpses of the risen Christ that are revealed in the gospel this Easter season call us to not only choose life but to think beyond our own lives to how we can serve and advocate for others.
Christ seems to be calling us from beyond the natural world to ask us to do more than is simple, convenient and safe.
Christ is calling us to uphold human dignity. Like Atlas carrying the weight of the world, this is not a task that is easy, part-time or without a few back pains every now and then.
Upholding human dignity is about more than simply passing policies and social statements that honor life, choice and mutuality. It’s washing your neighbors’ feet, switching places in line with the least and the desire to hold hope in some of the most hopeless moments.
My grandmother has always known what it means to uphold human dignity. When she was little, she used to tell jokes and try to get people to laugh at her so that they wouldn’t make fun of her sister’s large facial birthmark. Still today, she is the first to crack a joke to make fun of herself if someone else is feeling sensitive or is being made fun of.
Although Jesus was not the best role model in this regard, I believe that upholding human dignity means that we are not only working to care for what is best for others but that we must love ourselves as we love our neighbors.
It is not enough that we urge bullies to stop bullying. We must also become people and communities that stop bullying ourselves. For some of us, we are our worst critic. We need to turn off the tapes in our brains that tell us what we can’t do or that repeat the negative words that are ghosts of past tauntings.
For what is left of this Easter season, I hope that you will look for glimpses of Christ around you. If you don’t see it, then it is your turn to create it with your hands and feet. It may come by building something, giving something away or simply by listening. No matter what you do, don’t give up your dignity as you uphold the dignity of others.
Christ is risen indeed! Hallelujah!