Over the past five years, my belief in a literal resurrection has gone down, but (perhaps unexpectedly) my love for Easter has gone up. For my congregation’s 2022 Easter service, I was invited to say contribute during a certain part of the service. I shared with the congregation that the resurrection is something that’s hard for me to wrap my head around, but I figure that if I can try to muster the belief in the impossibility of the resurrection, I can have the belief that we can overcome racism, fix poverty, and solve other seemingly impossible tasks facing us. I think of Easter as a hopeful holiday, inviting us to have hope in even that which seems impossible to us. Even if the purported historical event Christians celebrate on Easter strains credulity, I think that kind of hope is worth celebrating.
Today, while reading Wil Gafney’s readings in her Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church for the Saturday of Easter Week, I was struck by her rendition of Acts 13:38:
Let it be known to you, therefore, my brothers and sisters, that through this man [Jesus] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.
This verse is preceded by a number of verses talking about the resurrection, and the juxtaposition of the resurrection and the forgiveness of sins stood out to me. I’ve been struggling with a different kind of hope recently in that my imposter syndrome and self esteem have been at a real low. Over the past several weeks, I haven’t had confidence in my being good enough—as a father, as a spouse, as a teacher, as a researcher, etc. This isn’t a new feeling for me, but the spring of 2023 has not been gentle along these lines. I don’t know that my shortcomings in these areas are necessarily “sins” to be “forgiven,” but I did come away with that reading with the idea that Easter can also give me hope in myself—in my sufficiency and in my being good enough.
These thoughts also reminded me of a speech made by the title character in the most recent episode of Ted Lasso, which we just watched last night. The speech stood out to me for the same way it spoke to that same kind of hope, and while it might make an oddly paired text with the Book of Acts, I couldn’t help but associate the two. Here’s Lasso’s speech, as transcribed by the good folks of TVTropes, whose transcription I trust to be accurate:
Belief doesn’t just happen cause you hang something on the wall. It comes from in here [gestures to heart], you know? Up here [gestures to head], and down here [gestures to gut]. Only problem is, we got so much junk floating around through us, a lot of the time we end up getting in our own way. You know, crap like envy or fear, shame. I don’t want to mess around with that shit anymore. You know what I mean? Do you? You know me either, hell no! You know what I want to mess around with? The belief that I matter! Regardless of what I do or don’t achieve… or the belief that we all deserve to be loved. Whether we’ve been hurt or maybe we’ve hurt somebody else… or what about the belief of hope? That’s what I wanna mess with. That I can get better. That we can get better. Oh man, to believe in yourself. To believe in one another… Man that’s—that’s fundamental to being alive. If you can do that, if each of you can truly do that, can’t nobody rip that apart!
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