I grew up in a mid-western Evangelical church that had an ongoing and profound effect on who I came to be. During these days preceding Easter I have a plethora of memories regarding that theology and the traditional meanings surrounding this season. Some of those memories are sweet in their remembrance, and many are admittedly painful. I recall as a small child staring intently at the enormous cross suspended over the baptismal of the church. I remember the feelings of remorse and shame as early as age seven or eight, and how I prayed to Jesus to forgive me for my part in his atoning death. The glory of a resurrection was lost to me compared to the detailed descriptions of his agonizing death.
A lot of internal work and integration has gone into seeing this depiction differently, and into my own healing from those deep feelings of shame and personal regret. I now see that the death of this magnificent way-shower was a political reaction to a spiritually empowering message. That message threatened the leaders of the time. Personal empowerment would have meant less dependence on the patriarchy and on the ruling class.
I do not in any way believe in a God-demanded sacrifice or in a vicarious atonement for the sins of the world. Human beings have historically killed those who came to earth with a torch of great Light. It is no different today, except that we do not deify them and connect the murder to a God-ordained act. We do not build a religion around them that often shrouds the beauty of the original message. Though it is by no means exclusive the one thing often missing from the traditional Christian message is the overarching gospel of the love he came to teach.
For me the power of Easter is in reclaiming the cross and in the deeper meaning of the symbols of this profound season. This Holy week for me is an opportunity to look more deeply within myself at the energy patterns of crucifixion and resurrection. The pattern of crucifixion is resistance, and the releasing of the resistance results in resurrection. It is a process that does not happen in my head. It happens in my heart and in my body. It is the Christ pattern literally happening in me. It is not historical. It is personal. It is devoid of shame and pregnant with Divine potential.
I was tormented in childhood by the image of that huge cross. Today I have reclaimed it. I know it well. I hung on my self-imposed cross for years. And now I am free. I am resurrected. And at times I nail myself back to the forces of the world, and I once again must die to self. It is a pattern that gets repeated daily. But the Power of the risen Christ is within me; because I am atone with It. That is my own personal Easter. It is that I celebrate this week.