Chances are that your world is either experiencing or anticipating an awakening earth after months of winter slumber. Grass is turning green, azaleas are splashing the landscape with brilliant reds, dogwoods are sprouting pink and white blooms—little Easter catechisms shaped like crosses and complete, each one, with a crown of thorns. When the birds begin their morning songs these days, and the bees their carpentry, we imagine that the sounds they make are Easter music served up by nature, as the church’s most important holy day coincides with the renewed activity of creation.
The lion’s roar came out of the Age of Enlightenment. It was the roar of freedom. It was the roar of truth. It was the roar of the victor standing over the body of his vanquished foe. It was an angry roar, and the lion had good reason to be angry.
Whoever tied Easter to the spring equinox made a very good decision. For those who are so inclined, there is no better time for feeling alive, as the whole world wakes from winter and makes new birth look easy. Clumps of green grass erupt from the flat tan lawn. Bluebirds appear on the clothesline. There are so many redbuds in the woods that a pink haze seems to waft through the trees.
"Easter is a terrific story,” says Tony Hendra, an actor, satirist and author of the wonderful book Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Life. So it is, and so we rediscover each year as we turn to the familiar narratives. The Gospels’ accounts are themselves modest, however. Curiously missing is any note of celebration.
On a Sunday morning in a certain city church, the Gospel lesson had been read and the minister was about to begin the sermon. Suddenly a stranger seated in the balcony stood up and interrupted the service. “I have a word from the Lord!” he shouted. Heads whipped around, and ushers bounded up the balcony stairs like gazelles.