I was in a supermarket a few days ago and overheard a young woman ask of her mother, “Why is Easter so expensive?” in reference to the prices on shelves loaded with Easter eggs, rabbits and an excess of other commercial paraphernalia.
An excellent question, I thought to myself, but for an entirely different reason unrelated to chocolate and bright tinsel paper. Indeed this is the moment for us to recall that Easter came at great personal cost, reflected in the core understanding of the Christian faith.
This week Christians will commemorate crucifixion, death and resurrection. Most understand what crucifixion and death imply, but resurrection is something else altogether, foolish indeed. Even the Apostle Paul said as much in I Corinthians 1: 18-31: “We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block… for God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength… but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.”
In many ways this Holy Week is indeed foolish, in the richest sense of the word. The things we hold most sacred are absurd or incomprehensible according to the measures of the ordinary world.
Jesus is not the poster child for worldly prosperity and success. Those of faith, in contrast, choose to follow a vagabond preacher of radical ideas – a man executed as a criminal. It is foolish, if not a downright dangerous life-choice to pursue.
Our society is in desperate need of a good dose of this foolishness of God. What Paul names as “human wisdom” is precisely what is driving the destruction of this fragile Earth. That so-called wisdom celebrates exploitation and extraction – whereas we are in need of a vision that celebrates a web of life, community and sufficiency. These godly values are seen as “foolish” – yet they are precisely what will save us.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, once said: “The commerce of the market is buying and selling – the commerce of the Kingdom is giving and receiving…”
It is hard to talk about the foolishness of God in the language of worldly wisdom. Grace, compassion and justice don’t fit into the simplistic box of the gross domestic product. Gratitude and generosity are hard to express within the framework of individualism and consumerism. To communicate the foolish message, we need to ask for ourselves “Why is Easter so expensive?”.
It costs a lot to choose to embrace the fullness and richness of God’s creation, rather than functioning within the limited views of conventional wisdom. However, I believe embracing such foolishness is the only choice to be made, no matter what it costs, even if we are isolated as a minority for being “different”.
It is a choice the followers of “The Way” make because it liberates and sets them free. I encourage you to think of taking a similar path in your life quest this Easter – and beyond.
Rev Nalin Perera – Wesley College Chaplain
Subscribe to Wesley College News & Events