Regardless of whether you take the story of Easter literally, figuratively or don't believe it at all, the holiday is a celebration of what was once thought impossible. More than that, it created a fork in the road. It's a crux at which members of the human raise either choose to believe in the biblical account of Christ's resurrection and do their best to live accordingly, or deny it happened and live as they desire. Now a days, many churches have difficulty maintain their numbers, and I believe part of it is because we are historically farther and farther away from that cross-road creating moment.
We can't see it.
During my Easter travels this year, I noticed the ditches and pastures weren't as flooded the farther from home I drove. I thought about how easy it would be to down play the drainage issues in our area, had I not been there to witness them myself. It would be easy for someone at the state's loftier elevations to say it isn't happening to us here.
Then I realized that all depends on who and where we consider to be us and here. If it's a matter of counties comparing to counties, it's more likely we will seek solutions for the hardships closest to us - perhaps at the expense of those farthest from us. However, if we see things from a broader perspective, say we see us as Iowans and here as the state, I feel we can accomplish much more for many more.
I think one of the most wonderful things about the Easter story is how it expanded the us and here long associated with the God of Isreal. It's expanded to a much greater degree than Iowans in a single Midwestern state. It expanded the definition of us to all people and the definition of here to every nation. Sometimes, I worry there is so much focus on individual inclusion, that it overshadows the big picture - a real forest and trees problem. Easter is not only a remembrance of our own inclusion, it's a recognition of an inclusion we happen to be part of, and it's an invitation to do the same. It's a chance to broaden our compassion, our empathy our aid and our love to the people who need it.
That's difficult. No doubt. That's why I was sure to type we "do our best to live accordingly" five paragraphs back there. It's very difficult to break the habit of looking out for me and mine. It's very difficult to stop being the Pharisee thanking God we aren't like that sinner over there. It's very difficult to replace those selfish sensibilities with inclusive impulses - to see us as a global race and not as separate peoples. It's very difficult to live in such a way as to show we truly believe in the reality of Easter teaches us, but it's a worthy goal.
And, to borrow a phrase from an area preacher, it's one which will likely take us the rest of our lives.