When I experienced the “reawakening” of my faith a few years ago, I didn’t know what to do with the Easter story. As a kid, I never questioned the supernatural happenings written about in the Bible. I just accepted what my Sunday School teacher told me, what my Mom told me, and what I read in the Bible.
But, being in combat has a way of stripping away all your illusions. After the first time that I went to Iraq, I lost my ability to believe in miracles. I watched too many young men and women die horribly and painfully to believe that prayer accomplished much, or that supernatural intervention existed. I figured that the relationship between God and prayer fell into one of three categories: either God didn’t hear our prayers, God heard but didn’t listen, or God listened, but didn’t care.
So, when I came back to the church and began to practice my faith more intentionally, I felt that I had to re-imagine the story of the Resurrection to fit with the experiences of the previous 8 years of my life. For a time, I professed a view of the Resurrection that was purely symbolic: Jesus rose from the dead “metaphorically”, that symbolism applied to us as well. Jesus rose from the dead and lived forever in the sense that His teachings continued long after He died. After all, isn’t that the only way that we live forever: in the hearts and minds of the people that we affected?
In short, I didn’t have room in my faith or my life for magic.
Oh, what a difference a few years can make.
As the time has passed, as I’ve had the time to re-examine my experiences and my response to them, I have made a decision that seems counterintuitive: I have decided to believe in magic, at least on Easter Sunday.
It’s not that I need to live in a world where people come back from the dead.
I need to live in a world where Jesus rose from the dead.
The lesson of the resurrection, to me, is that God’s love overcame man’s wrath. And, I need to believe that.
I need to believe that love conquers wrath, even if just for one day.
I need to believe that the Prince of Peace was more powerful that the dogs of war, even if just for one day.
I need to believe that forgiveness conquers hatred and violence, even if just for one day.
I need to believe that life overcomes death, if just for one day.
Because, if Jesus truly, literally rose from the dead, these things can be true. And, if they can be true for Him, then maybe they can be true for the world that I live in. Maybe I and my children can live in the world that Jesus created when He walked out of the tomb. Maybe we can live in a world where forgiving your enemies is a more potent act than killing them. Maybe we can live in a world where mankind’s wrath and addiction to violence is finally satisfied, overcome by love, peace, and compassion.
Maybe, we can live in the world where death is not the final answer, where all the men and women who have died on the altar of warfare can rise again – in some other place and time – into a world where the lion lies down with the lamb.
A world with a risen Jesus is a world where there is hope. It’s a hope that says that no matter what happens on Friday night, Sunday morning will be better. It’s a hope that says that promises are kept, and that they can be believed.
So, today, I choose to believe in magic. I choose to believe that Jesus physically walked out of His grave, that He conquered death in a very real sense, and that death is now only a temporary state – a waiting room for everlasting and abundant life. Even if I can’t believe in a single other magical, supernatural occurrence, I have decided to believe in this one. Because, it makes the pain, the suffering, the death that I see and read about every day somehow bearable.
So, a glorious Resurrection Sunday to you all. Even if you don’t believe a word of the Bible, even if you don’t believe in any God or gods, the world that I hope for – the world that the Resurrection shows me – is a world for everyone.
May you find the magic in your own life. May you find the hope in the midst of the darkness. May you always work for the better world, and may you never stop believing that we can attain it.