Osiris, the Dalai Lama, the Phoenix...Stories of a divine, holy, or magical person or creature that returned to life after having died.
Elijah...a prophet who, according to legend, ascended to heaven in a whirlwind and who was expected to return from the hereafter to lead his people to freedom and glory.
Life seems to slumber, even die in the cold winter only to be renewed and revived when spring returns.
Day disappears as night takes over, but a few hours later morning breaks anew and the day lives again.
The images and stories of death being but part of the never-ending flow of life are numerous. Among them are, of course, the stories of a Galilean prophet who was executed but who somehow did not stay dead. This prophet, Jesus of Nazareth, is celebrated every Easter with hymns and scriptures and sermons affirming Resurrection Power.
Today, Palm Sunday, begins Holy Week in the Christian tradition. This week leads to the glorious celebration of Easter.
Are the stories true? Of course. The Phoenix who rises from the ashes of her own death communicates an eternal truth...the energy of life can't be destroyed. It continues beyond the appearance of death. Nothing that is true or ultimately Real can ever be destroyed. Was there ever a magical bird that would dive into a burning fire and then rise to new life from its own ashes? Not that I can prove. But the story points to something beyond itself that seems to be very true to me. Life will find a way to express, today and forever, even beyond the appearance of death.
Is the Easter story true? Absolutely. Did Golgotha end the story of Jesus? Did it end his significance? Did it end the hope for justice or healing in our world? Did it kill the truth? No. And so, the story of life beyond crucifixion is real, true, relevant.
Did Easter happen? In some sense, I'm willing to bet it did. But the more important question for me is, "Does Easter happen?" And to that question I must answer without reservation: YES. And so next Sunday I will add my voice to the voices of others, saying, "Alleluia, Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!" In part I will be celebrating a possibility of the past, but more than that, I will be affirming the reality of the present and of all time.