Though Easter sometimes seems to be a holiday all about bunnies, bonnets, and brunch, the power of the original Easter story still draws the masses to worship. Atlanta church sanctuaries were packed to the rafters last Sunday. Thousands braved the morning chill and took their places atop Stone Mountain to see the sun rise upon a world no longer bound by the chains of death and darkness. Whatever else the Christian faith is about, at its core is the “unalloyed good news” that the stone has been rolled away, Christ has been raised from the dead, and God’s everlasting love has carried the day.
The worldwide Jewish community is in the midst of Passover, its most storied and beloved festival. Passover celebrates the Lord’s mighty act of liberation on behalf of the Hebrew people who had endured the shackles of bondage in Egypt for 400 years. The Lord “passed over” the houses of the Jews, sparing their children during the last of the 10 plagues, which had included, among other menaces, frogs and flies, thunder and hail.
In both the Hebrew and the Christian traditions, a new reality is made possible through the power of God. In both narratives, suffering and loss, helplessness and travail seem to carry the day; yet, all the while, God is at work opening up a heretofore unimagined future. No wonder Passover and Easter are so beloved by the faithful, the mildly faithful, and the wanting-to-be-faithful in our day. Who doesn’t hunger for the reassurance that past does not necessarily determine the future? Pharaohs fall. Stones roll. Any blessed thing can happen now.
If I asked you to come up with 10 modern day plagues, analogous to those that preceded the Exodus, I imagine you could do so in a heartbeat. So could I. But what if I asked you to name 10 modern day possibilities instead? In honor of Passover and Easter and their earthshaking reminders that nothing is a done deal until God gets through with it, here are 10 that come to mind:
1. The Trayvon Martin tragedy will become the occasion for an open, candid dialogue about race.
2. Atlanta will for the first time in years actually have a decrease in the number of women, children and men who are homeless.
3. Families of all sorts and shapes will hold together better because the people in them exercise the disciplines of constancy, commitment, patience, and love.
4. Grown-ups will listen with their hearts to little kids, who start out caring about baby birds that fall from nests and remind the rest of us of our moral obligation to protect the innocent and vulnerable.
5. Ordinary people of all ages will remember that self-sacrifice, not excessive self-absorption, is the better way to live.
6. The currently neglected virtue of humility will have a big comeback.
7. Our leaders will call us to higher ground and not pander to our basest instincts.
8. Nobody will go hungry in the richest nation on earth or anywhere else for that matter.
9. America will live up to its ideals of liberty and justice for all.
10. The Atlanta Braves will win the World Series in four straight games. It never hurts to hope!
Rev. Joanna Adams