First published on Easter, 2017. I’m redoing it today. It reflects how I have felt this weekend.
They say those of us who have just a wee bit o’ the tartan runnin’ through our veins, are more sentimental than the most emotional Italian. We just hide it. I’ve reached the point where I don’t like to do church on Easter morning for the simple reason when my very favorite hymn is sung, I will stand there and blubber, thinking about Easters past, spent with my grandparents, at Memorial Presbyterian Church in West Palm Beach, Florida. That was home to four generations of my family, for many years. I’m pleased to see it hasn’t fallen into the hard right trap.
It was a wonderful church, with the long-time minister, Ryan Wood, and his wife, Mattie more like grandparents than a minister and spouse. They were such good people, who loved the Lord. Dr. Wood always said, one of these years, the Presbyterian church would change. When that happened, we would need to become Episcopalians. Lo and behold – I am an Episcopalian!
Growing up in a normal, decent, loving Christian family was such a gift. Today, when you see the abuse, the insanity, and the way women are being treated, I realize what a wonderful childhood I had. I also realize what an exceptional Christian education I was given, along with a remarkable spiritual and theological legacy. As I’ve mentioned, several times, religion is more a contact sport than a spectator sport in my family – both sides. It was approached with a bit of irreverence, a sense of humor, awe, and wonder. It was never forced, manipulated, or abused. We were allowed to have science, a very worldly education with a emphasis on the arts, music, and culture, and there were no limitations to our behavior other than the knowledge if we ended up ‘in trouble’ our mother would ‘kill’ us. (Not really, but that was the message). Women were just as good as men, to be treated maybe a little better than men (I come from a highly matriarchal background), and there were no limits to what we could do, learn, or earn.
Every Easter Sunday, sitting there, in the 5th pew from the front (I think it was the 5th pew) with my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins spilling over into the pew behind and in front (with no one daring to tell the Froehlichs to either spread out elsewhere, or to shut-up (except for Aunt Bessie) we would sing Jesus Christ is Risen Today. We would start in Sunday School, and sing it again during the regular morning service. There would be lunch with everyone, then the Easter Egg Hunt! If I were really lucky, I could shag a set of car-keys and make my way over to the ball-park where they Braves were doing Spring Training. My grandfather Froehlich always went with me.
I think we have become so entrenched in thinking, rightfully, about the spiritual aspects of Holy Days, that we forget the emotional and familial history and the sentiment is just as important. I am so profoundly thankful for my family and their dedication to Christ, and the legacy of stability and sensible grounding we were given. Their legacy has helped me understand how horribly corrupt certain aspects of Christianity are becoming, to the point where the religion that is being created from it – more a cult than a religion – has nothing to do with Christianity as anyone has ever known it. One wonders what is going to happen to the leaders who have willingly and knowingly imposed their version of this new heresy on unwitting Christians. Do those individuals who have so blindly bought into the false teachings have any spiritual responsibility? I think there are some very hard and serious questions someone with a higher pay-grade than moi will be answering one day.
One of the descriptions of a Christian is someone who has experienced the Risen Christ. The very first Christians, the very first individuals, the very first people to experience the Risen Christ were not the cowardly, and hapless, faithless Disciples, who were cowering, waiting to be arrested and executed, but a handful of courageous women, Mary Magdalene being the first. The sinful woman, the one who was going to be stoned to death for being a harlot, a fallen woman, was the very first person to whom Jesus Christ, our Risen Savior appeared. He did not appear to the High Priest, or Caesar’s representative, or to the Disciples cowering in the darkness, but a fallen, sinful woman, the kind of woman most church goers, even today, would rather not have among them. He then appeared to other woman – not men – but women.
In the strange world of the patriarchal Christian heresies of today, where the Holy Trinity is no longer about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the very story of Christ appearing to women first completely negates their demands that women must submit to men. It erases the very heresy that permeates the far right patriarchs who now preach that women must seek their spiritual enlightenment, and indeed, their very salvation from the men in their lives. Christ did NOT appear to the men first, but to women.
Women were the very first Christians. In fact, when they told the cowardly men about the Risen Christ, they were laughed at. After all, they were just hysterical women. Funny thing that, the tomb was empty, and Christ had risen indeed! In the very act of appearing to the women first, Christ established women as the spiritual equal of men. They were proclaimed Apostles – those who had actually seen the Risen Christ. Fact is, the women who were there with Christ were far more deserving of the title ‘apostle’ than Paul of Tarsus ever was. How could anyone teach that women were to be subservient to men, to be silent in church, and to be the unequal of men, spiritually, when Christ, time after time, went out of his way to prove women were the equal to men? Funny how they’ve managed to throw out certain parts of the Bible.
Funny thing, that. The very bedrock of the patriarchal godly man’s world, the submission of women, has nothing to do with the teachings of Christ. It has nothing to do with anything Biblical. It is a theology based on ignorance, willful lies, and a complete bastardization of what Christianity is all about. I’m sure glad I’m not promoting it.
Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!
Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!
But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
now above the sky he’s King, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!
William Henry Monk
Now, please pass the Peeps!