Years ago I was the grand marshal of the gay pride parade in Phoenix. Staying in my hotel was a large group of adolescent girls. One afternoon, as I was waiting for the elevator, I could tell there was a car full of them about to disembark. I could hear their shrill voices coming down the shaft and through the closed door.
Before it opened, I heard a girl shriek, “I’d never be caught dead in that.” As a dozen of them piled off the elevator, I couldn’t tell who was wearing the offensive clothing, but I wanted to ask the budding fashion critic what exactly she did want to be caught dead in.
That first Easter, Jesus shed his linen clothes and abandoned the tomb. It was as if he was saying, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in that.”
Now, Jesus and adolescent girls aren’t the only ones worried about what they are caught dead in. The WhiteLight Casket Company offers personalized “art coffins.” Golfers can choose their “Fairway to Heaven” model. You can get Ireland’s flag painted on your casket to honor your Irish heritage. Catholics can get one with Our Lady of Guadalupe. You even can get a casket with a red AIDS Ribbon. If you still have your sense of humor even in the face of death, there is a model that looks like a postal package that says in big bold letters, “Return to Sender.”
The casket makers may understand Easter better than most Christians. We came from God and in death return to God.
Death, our ultimate enemy, is defeated. We are people who believe in life; Easter is the reason Christians are people of perpetual hope! Despair is absolute arrogance. No one knows enough to give up hope. To surrender hope is to be a functional atheist. So, how different might your week be if you resolved, right here at the start, that you will not, at any point, act like a functional atheist? What would this week be like if every challenge was met with eternal hope?
by Michael Piazza
Center for Progressive Renewal