I recently came across some Easter pictures from the year I was ten. They’re a bit faded now, but there I was, dressed up in my pink Easter dress and sporting a blue and green black eye.
I was a certified tomboy (which makes the pink dress all the more of a miracle) and I got my black eye through honest horseplay.
That year I put on the expected Easter finery, hunted for eggs, ate chocolate, and went to church, all while sporting a beauty of a shiner.
This Easter, I don’t have a black eye; but organized religion in America sure does.
I am writing these words on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter – a Saturday that marks the paradoxical moment of suspended animation between the experience of death/defeat and the promise of life/victory.
In many ways, this day reflects my current location on my spiritual journey.
I’ve had a falling out with my “church” while also sensing an ever stronger pull to be part of the “Church”. There has been a “death” for me in the sense of belonging to a church, while also a promise of “life” within the greater purpose of the “Church”.
Just as religious leaders in Jerusalem called for Jesus to be executed, some leaders in today’s American church call for the de facto execution of the poor, displaced, and oppressed. They cheer as political leaders cut people off from healthcare, food, education, and safe harbor.
Other leaders remain wishy washy about whether all are welcome and accepted in the church; they debate and negotiate with those who think the church needs gatekeepers and bouncers to keep some people out. Jesus welcomed and accepted every person. He was pretty clear about it. He died for all.
American church leaders have largely remained tone deaf to the heartfelt cries of #MeToo.
The American church has a black eye.
We can dress it up all we want, but it’s hard to ignore.
So, here I am on this Easter Saturday…disillusioned with a church that is seemingly drifting farther and farther away from the example of Christ.
I am probably not getting dressed up tomorrow to worship at a church.
Maybe. Maybe not.
But this coming week I am going to pack my bag, meet a bus on a lonely stretch of highway, and join with other disciples heading to D.C. to rally and call for an end to racism.
My trust in a church is dead, but my faith in Christ and his Church is alive and well.
This Easter I may not be in church, but I am looking forward to following Jesus.
And shiner or no, I am determined to smile.