Monday, 9 April 2012

A perspective on Easter


Let me tell you this: wager that through Christ death is not the end – and discover what life really is (after John 3:16)

Perspective is always changing. Look out the car window: landscapes race past. The view changes as you see something approaching. The tree at the side of the road slowly grows and then flashes into the periphery of your attention: forgotten, never seen again, outside of perception.

Our horizon shapes everything within it, yet horizon is always changing within our perceptions. In film, the director plays with perspectives through the frame of a camera lens: foreground; background; near; distant; imposing; miniature. Everything has significance within its horizon, and the way we see the world shifts with the orientation of our gaze: look east and the turning of the earth pulls great blankets of light up into the sky. Look west and the weight of that great ball smoulders as it sinks beyond what can be seen.

Through human experience, time becomes horizon – something relative and shifting. The more we do during the day, the faster time goes. And time can drag. Time is perceived by us and gives us horizons: a deadline gives everything within a horizon of significance and imperative direction; fruit is best eaten before it rots, so we eat it when it is ripe; an egg can only be cracked once and so we try not to drop it.

Horizons give us perspective. They shape and limit our world of awareness. This world of awareness is unique for each and every person. Everyone is born within a horizon of historical epoch, environment, genes, culture, language, kin and neighbour. This horizon is one’s own; one’s home. These things limit us and frame who we are as this and not that, here and not there, now and not then.

For Christians, Easter gives a perpetual focus to life, even though this is celebrated only once a year. Good Friday is not just a calendar event; it is a reminder of that great horizon which seems to limit all life on this earth: death.

The horizon of death is one that shapes all human life, although we may only occasionally notice it looming. If one looks up from the occupations of day to day life and gazes toward the limits of what can be seen, what can be understood, everything in existence is rendered in light of that. Some people talk of the blazing glory of our brief but intense life as a spark amid overwhelming nothingness; some seem happy to dwell in the warm darkness of apathy; some choose to avoid looking, filling their attention and purpose with human things. In responding to the horizon of death, humans make something of their own being, giving a particular perspective, significance and impetus to everything in life.

Yet Easter proclaims a distinct possibility for human life in the face of this seemingly “ultimate” horizon. The Christian message announces that we are not beholden to this impending deadline and can go beyond death by looking to a new horizon of life – life in Christ. And go beyond death now. On Easter Sunday we celebrate the actual possibility for this in the resurrection of Jesus, an account in which life unbounded by death radically changes perspective and reforges existence itself.

In Christ, life instead of death as the end possibility of human identity and dignity, is even today a source of different perspective and a different horizon. Christ alive in hearts, minds and deeds—in the midst of equivocal human experience—is the good news (‘gospel’) that is proclaimed.

We respond to this message in our ability to choose what is good, what is just, what is kind, what is humble – God speaks into our human lives as event and choice. In our response to Easter, the very core of our existence can be resurrected within a new horizon of life in Christ, rendering everything in a new light.

Happy Easter.

Are we prepared to wager that life is greater than death? To discover an alternative horizon and further, to discover that this is gift already at work within human existence is the profound truth of Easter.

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