A Unitarian Universalist Easter

March 5, 2013

My coleague, the Rev. Barbara Pescan, asks in a poem, “Who are we at Easter?”  Who indeed?

Few Unitarian Universalists believe in the literal bodily resurrection of Christ. Even fewer see the resurrection as the most important part of the Christian story. We are far more likely to focus on (and learn from) the parables, stories, and lessons Jesus offered while he was alive.

Some congregations, then, celebrate Easter primarily out of habit. I’m not sure whether folks are nervous about the story of Jesus’ resurrection or simply uninterested, but I’ve attended (and even led) Easter Sunday church services that are basically generic spring celebrations, with Easter-egg hunts and de-Christified hymns and nary a mention of the risen Christ. One of my colleagues even asked his congregation if they’d like to skip Easter altogether.

I found my own perceptions about Easter challenged and eventually transformed by my participation in interfaith Easter Sunrise Services. We would gather at a memorial garden, sing the traditional hymns, and hear the traditional story and some stellar preaching from my (mostly progressive) Christian colleagues. In my fourth year, it was my turn to preach, and I found myself connecting with the Easter story in new and powerful ways. I find in it universal themes that are more than worthy of reflection.

All human beings fear death, and Easter invites us to face that fear and move beyond it.  All human beings spend time ‘in the tomb,’ trapped in grief or depression.  All human beings need help to ‘roll aside the stone’ and find their way back to joy and life.  And most importantly:  love lasts, even beyond death.

I also experience on Easter a sense of connection to- and gratitude for- our Christian roots, as well as the broader Christian community.  Though many of my co-religionists are ‘come-outers,’ I am a ‘stay-inner.’ Raised Unitarian Universalist, I don’t have a lot of baggage, nor do I suffer from ‘cross cringe.’  For me, Jesus’ legacy is a source of strength and inspiration.  It is not the only source, but a significant source, nonetheless.

I wonder sometimes if we do ourselves a disservice when we locate our faith outside of the broader Christian community.  Many of the mainline protestant denominations and many progressive Catholics are becoming more and more simpatico with Unitarian Universalism.  They are embracing world religions, free thought and other progressive causes.  There is more than enough common ground to hold us all.

What changes if we understand Unitarian Universalism to be on the leading edge of progressive Christianity, rather than a fringe faith that has largely rejected Christianity?  What changes in us?  In our congregations?  In our interfaith relationships?  In our world?



One Response to “A Unitarian Universalist Easter”

  1. Margaret Dibble Says:

    I don’t much care for Easter, never have. I’m not a Christian anyway. I do like the eggs, however and maybe this year will fullfill a longstanding ambition to make hot cross buns for the congregation at Easter.

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