I should have titled this a Sunday Sermon but you folks knew what to expect.
As Holidays go, I like Easter. Christmas was originally the pagan astrological announcement that the darkest day was over and the earth was hurtling toward the arrival of spring.
Easter, is the proclamation that, by god it's Spring!
A Jew friend of mine laughs at the fuss made over Christmas. I think he laughs at Christmas because he thinks it is a grand practical joke played on Christians by Jewish shopkeepers. "An excellent merchandising opportunity," as he says.
"For Christians," he says,
"Easter is the franchise!"
"If you don't get to come back from the dead and go to heaven...there's no real point in being a Christian, now is there?"
Several orthodoxies do a much better job of defining an ethical life than does Christianity. I plead an incomplete education here, but of those I am aware of, I consider Budhism to do the best job. All they ask, is that you think for yourself and try to live a kind life, and if you can make a little gift to a monk, that would be nice too. Human foible has crept into Budhism in several forms but "Strive to be a kind person" seems to be pretty clear, as religious directives go.
And support your local monk!
That as a concept, is a constant in any religion that has a chance of surviving. We must not forget the business end of belief, or it all goes away, unable to sustain itself. The monks or priests or preachers, whatever, would have to go get jobs and bag the religion if we didn't give them rice or money...(Uh, dang that's pretty obvious....Anybody thinking what I'm thinking?....)
The "business of belief" was Paul's gift to what passes for Christianity today. Paul tried to buy the franchise from James, Jesus's brother, and James in his high mindedness, refused to accept the money Paul offered. After all the hard work and a fairly painful martyrdom, the religion that Jesus founded passed away about 28 years after his death, because the business end just wasn't happening. Jesus thought the pusuit of money caused too many problems.
The total lack of monetary pursuit causes problems, too!
Paul, on the other hand, as a Jewish Rabbi, had a vision(literally) and a good business plan and started it all over...Well not exactly but close enough. He wound up with the trademark, and that was enough. Something to bond all the believers together. This is where the symbol of the fish comes in.
(The cross came in a couple of centuries later...I am not so crazy about the cross of death symbol that pops up along our highways nowadays, but as symbols go, the fish thing rocks! And talk about kindness! Taking your own lunch, a few fish and a couple of rolls, and sharing it amongst a few thousand people is a monumental act of kindness...We will ignore for the moment, that the fishes and loaves were not Jesus's but were taken from a boy who was hanging out and got swept up in all the biblical events about to go down. Happens to lots of people with names like Jedediah and Ezekiel and such. )
Anyway, if I've pissed anyone off so far, I'm sorry but you can look it up yourself if you care to. If I haven't pissed you personally off...I'm sorry. I do what I can to make you think, OK?
Where was I?...
So Easter is happening and this is the crux (interesting term, that...) of Christianity. It is a symbol of an act of sacrifice, this cross, not for the benefit of one's own bank account, but a sacrifice for others in the ultimate sense.
Regardless of whether you believe every word in the Bible is the literal word of god, or you think it is a collection of folk tales, the concept of sacrifice for the benefit of others is so noble as to make one weep at times for those who have done so.
"Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you!"
Now That, is a concept!
Hey, my friend! Let's make a deal:
I won't steal your stuff, and I won't lie to you, and I won't try to kill you or hurt you, if you will do the same for me...Deal?
But this "Kindness" thing takes it a step further...you must give!
It is Easter! I wish, with all my heart, that the one thing that would rise from the dead in America...and find evelasting life...
Peace and Love to all...Happy Easter,