By Mark Schloneger
Not long ago, Christians around the world celebrated Easter. In the name of Jesus, we gave greetings of life. In the name of Jesus, we decorated the cross with life. In the name of Jesus, we sang anthems of life, we preached about life, we prayed for life, we marched outside with life, we praised the God of life, we proclaimed life: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
The one who was dead is now alive, that was our message on Easter Sunday and that is our message every Sunday. In a world captivated with death, we proclaim the good news of life. As Christians, we believe that Jesus shared in our humanity in order to destroy the one who holds the power of death, that is, the devil--and to free those who are held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15)
I couldn't help but think of our Easter Sunday celebration when I witnessed the celebration that began the very next Sunday. This celebration continues today. It's the opposite of Easter--it's Bizarro Easter. It's a celebration of death, not life, and it carries its own message: Our enemy is dead! He is dead indeed!
This was the "good news" that President Obama proclaimed on the Sunday after Easter, and this is how it's celebrated: we spontaneously cheer at a baseball game at the news of his death; we dance in the streets outside the White House happy about his death; we sing anthems and deliver speeches giving meaning to his death; we hail the nation and its heroes who delivered us his death; we declare that justice has been served with death; we tell our friends the news, we contact our family with the news, we post on Facebook the news--the news of our enemy's death; we search out articles to read about the details of his death.
And like bizarro Doubting Thomases, we clamor to view our enemy's wounds just to make sure that he's really dead. Can't we see the video, or at least some bloody photos, to prove that the one who once was alive is now dead?
Because he died, we can face tomorrow.
Because he died, our fear is gone.
Because we know, he threatened our future,
Life is safe for living just because he died.
Does this disturb you? I hope so.
I understand that the death that sparked these Bizarro Easter celebrations was of a person who sowed hatred and suffering and death to many, many people during his life. I am glad that he will not be able to continue to work toward those evil ends. But for followers of a Messiah who died for his enemies, there is no nuance that depends upon the evil actions of our enemies.
As Christians, we believe that the answer to evil is found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. For followers of Jesus, death is not a cause for celebration; it's a reminder to seek out the God who created us for life, redeemed us for life, and sustains us for life. Rejoicing in death is the opposite of Easter. It's anti-Christ.
Thankfully, the world has not been left with a succession of Bizarro Easters, celebrating the death of enemies until the next ones take their place. Jesus reigns victorious over the death-dealing forces of evil. His kingdom has come, is coming, and will come. May those who profess to follow Christ in life be free from their fear of death and continue to celebrate and proclaim and live the good news of Easter--to friends, to neighbors and, yes, to enemies.
Mark Schloneger is pastor of Springdale Mennonite Church, Waynesboro. This article was first published in the Staunton News Leader <http://www.newsleader.com/article/20110514/OPINION02/105140303/The-Bizarro-after-Easter-celebration>.