This week my town mourns a broken creation. Our world is stalked by death. Children shoot each other, bridges fall on people, and monstrous chaos incomprehensibly careens into some of our leading citizens' dreams. Easter means nothing unless we face this squarely.
Not long ago, a bereaved son, who had lost his mom to cancer, told me he did not want to hear anybody say, “God has a plan; God has a plan.” I don’t blame him. If there is anything crueler than death, it’s telling the bereaved that God orchestrated their loved one’s murder in order to accomplish some inscrutable good. That’s more insensitive than saying humans are nothing more than bio-chemicals; and, therefore, a mother’s death is nothing more than a change in chemical composition. No, the grieving son’s instincts are right. With the perfect mixture of rage and grief, he cried that his mother’s death “is just not fair.”
For many, unjust suffering seems to argue against faith in God. One young man once pointed me to a video about some small creature who cruelly keeps its prey alive while it slowly sucks its life out. “How,” this person asked, “could a loving God create a cruel world like that?”
“Because Jews and Christians believe that the process of creation is obstructed and unfinished,” I responded.
He seemed unaware of this. My questioner didn’t know that Christians believe alien forces of death have lodged themselves into an ongoing creative process and that it is a central tenet of Christian faith that God in Christ entered creation’s experience, suffering a most cruel and unfair death. Nor had this man considered Jesus’ resurrection being a kind of renewed act of creation which shakes the unjust order to its foundation. When God raised Jesus, this Jesus became the “first-fruits” of a “new creation” where Lion and lamb will one day lay down together.
As the earth shook on Easter morning the angels announced the news to which church bells continue to give advanced notice: death and injustice will be damned. While they are presently still with us, they will not have the last word.