Easter! The Great Sunrise, the first light of dawn after the longest and darkest night; the first day of spring after the bitterest and most barren winter. The world shines new on Easter morn, a world reborn and renewed. Easter is the birth of a new way of being; the start and foretaste of the party to end all parties. It is the inaugural event of God’s kingdom, of earth redeemed and heaven come down to us.
Easter is God’s great joke against the powers of evil and hate and oppression and chaos; the brutal powers of the world overcome by the gentle power of love which death cannot destroy. The turn of the tide of all history; entropy and gravity reversed; death, darkness and despair defeated by life, light and love.
Of course, the hope of Easter is predicated on the horror of Good Friday; the triumph cannot stand without the tragedy. Does this undermine the hope of Easter or sully its glory? No; on the contrary, the triumph of Easter redeems the tragedy of Good Friday, its hope transforms the horror. That may sound suspiciously like saying that the end justifies the means. The truth is perhaps more that the end transcends and transforms what has gone before, shedding a new and redemptive light on the dark, difficult and tortuous path that has led up to this point.
Pain and suffering are an innate part of this old world order; the way to the new world is not by trying to escape from this world but by embracing its painful mess and brokenness – embracing our own mess and brokenness – even to death. On the opposite riverbank of this sacrifice lies Easter and a new world. On the far side of heartbreak and suffering and death – if we can truly face and accept those things first and not just hide or run from them – lies the hope of unimaginable goodness and glory and peace and wholeness. And with them, that party to end all parties, to which we all now stand invited.
As Sunni says in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, paraphrasing Julian of Norwich, ‘In the end everything is all right. If it’s not all right, then it is not yet the end’.
Or as Bill and Ted put it, ‘Party on, dudes!’