About a month ago I found this little gem of a book, “Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth,” by Walter Bruggemann at a small used bookstore in Black Mountain, North Carolina. I remembered him as a theologian, but I had no idea he was a poet! I would like to share excerpts from a piece called “Easter Us” and why it moved me so much.
Our lives, addressed to you,
have this bitter-sweet taste of
loud-clashing miracles and weak-kneed doubt.
So we come in our bewilderment and wonderment,
deeply trusting, almost afraid to trust much,
passionately insisting, too timid to insist much,
fervently hoping, exhausted for hoping too much.
There is so much dialectic tension held in this paragraph—something we often avoid in our Christian circles. But the truth is that we are often a paradox of contrary postures. We can be faithful one moment and utterly faithless the next. One day we revel in the nearness of the Lord, and not long afterward feel a pang of His absence.
There are moments, seasons when we feel certain of the things we know—about God, about ourselves and about this world—and times when we question everything. And yet those dark and confusing times often urge our hearts to stretch out and embrace God’s presence and assurance more than ever.
Look upon us in our deep need,
mark the wounds of our brothers and sisters just here,
notice the turmoil in our lives, and the lives of our families,
credit the incongruity of the rich and the poor in our very city,
and the staggering injustices abroad in our land,
tend to the rage out of control, rage justified by displacement,
rage gone crazy by absence, silence, and deprivation,
measure the suffering,
count the sufferers,
number the wounds.
In many ways, our world feels more hostile and the future more uncertain than ever before. We have wept at the videos of children gasping for air from chemical attacks, at countless Christians slaughtered for believing the very same gospel as we do. We’ve seen tomahawk missiles fly and North Korea display their latest host of nuclear weapons.
Mankind’s death-instruments are endless—and the powers of darkness are fully funded by the very same greed, pride, and fear that lies at the heart of each one of us. Our souls ache for those who tasted death before reaching abundant life—for those whose story ended at the grave. Sometimes, it takes every ounce of willpower within us not to succumb to despair.
You tamer of chaos and mender of all tears in the canvas of creation,
we ponder your suffering,
your crown of thorns,
your garment taken in lottery,
your mocked life,
and now we throw upon your suffering humiliation,
the suffering of the world.
You defeater of death, whose power could not hold you,
come in your Easter,
come in your sweeping victory,
come in your glorious new life.
Today is Easter, and here’s the reality: This God we profess is either Here or Not Here. Jesus of Nazareth was either the Savior of our beautiful yet broken world or he was not. The story of a God-man who absorbed all man-made death by His own to raise humanity into eternal glory is either true—or it stands as one of the greatest myths of human history. We can participate in God’s plan to restore the earth to a fullness of life and every individual to complete goodness—or decide that there is no such plan.
Easter us in joy and strength
Be our God, be your true self, lord of life,
massively turn our life toward your life
and away from our anti-neighbor, anti-self deathliness.
Hear our thankful, grateful, unashamed Hallelujah!
The Good News is that we are not alone in this world. The Good News is that mankind can be saved from its potential for evil. The Good News is that the real battle on earth will not be won through millions of dollars or manufactured metal.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” The Good News is that there is so much more to this life than what we see.
But the really best news that the God we cannot see, sees us and loves us. And if we let Him, He will show us who we truly are and turn our enlightened eyes outwards—to imagine the world through Easter eyes.
Walter Brueggemann, March 29, 1994
“Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth”
Copyright 2003 Augsburg Fortress