For most of my life Christianity meant the American-fundamentalist version. My dad was a preacher and I answered my first “altar call” when I was about five years old. We always had, I think, a strange relationship with Easter. Fundamentalists take a lot of pride that they serve a risen savior and really enjoy making fun of Catholics because of the crucifix, which displays the dying body of Christ.
Gordon White, in a recent video Q and A in the member area at Rune Soup, made an offhand comment that really struck me. He said that the American, megachurch model of Christianity isn’t even Christian–they have the wrong rituals. In my own practice, I’ve began to incorporate Catholic customs like the praying the rosary, praying to saints, and attending mass. I’m a heretic by
most all standards, but the internal and external benefit I’ve received tells me that there’s certainly a there there.
With that in mind here are a few things that this heretic is thinking about on Easter.
Meditation 1: The Resurrection of Christ
Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.
Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.
Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”
The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:1-10, 18-20 (New Living Translation)
Meditation 2: The Rose of Jericho Prayer
The Rose of Jericho is an interesting little guy. It spends most of it’s life as dried, dusty ball of desiccation. But the addition of just a little water causes it to turn green and come to life. Because of this it’s also known as the Resurrection Plant. It’s magical uses vary from wealth spells to safe birth to curse removal. I keep a bottle of water in which the rose has soaked that I sometimes add to baths. But the resurrection quality of the plant makes it especially appropriate to Easter rituals. Jason Miller posted a video several years ago sharing an Easter prayer that one can pray over a bloomed Rose of Jericho.
Meditation 3: A Gnostic Homily for Easter
I’m still working out my relationship with Gnosticism. On the one hand, it seems to illuminate a lot of truths about the mystical and pagan origins of original Christianity. On the other hand, I’m not convinced that the Old Testament God is the demiurge. I don’t find the metaphorical concept of a literal demiurge to be a terribly useful one. So I’m still working out how this fits on my path. But still …
We do not celebrate the death and miraculous animation of the physical body of one man in history but our own apotheosis and resurrection as a reality in this life. Belief in an historical event is not going to change anything in us. The mysteries of Gnosis are not of this world; they are in the world but not of the world. This is nowhere more true than in the mystery of the Resurrection.
The full article is good (if you ignore some of the inaccuracies about Easter and Oestara).
And because Gnostics believe in becoming Christlike while alive, the death and resurrection of the Savior symbolizes part of the process of Gnosis itself. An individual who seeks ultimate spiritual freedom must die to his lower self that is attached to the material world. Then he must arise as a transformed being that is not only firmly connected to the Godhead but can teach the way of soul-ascension to others. A person is no longer part of the crowds under the Cross of Wood staring at phantoms but within the Cross of Light, filled with faith, hope, wisdom and even the Pleroma.
Finally is my own humble offering that I initially posted last year at Easter. Let me end this with the same wish for all who celebrate this day that I ended that post with.
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.