By Tom Ehrich

Easter always has a context.

The original took place in the context of Roman oppression of the known world, massive enslavement of defeated peoples, excessive wealth in the hands of a few, widespread ignorance, a corrupt emperor claiming to be God and God's corrupt people claiming to be righteous.

To that world, Jesus said hardly a word. He refused to defend himself from false accusations. He refused to curry favor with the powerful. To the wealthy he said, Give it away. To the righteous he said, Deny yourselves, and pick up your own cross. To the weak he said, Be strong. To the strong he said, Be weak. To outcasts he said, Welcome. To his accusers and tormentors he said, I forgive you.

Easter's context is much the same in 2015. Widespread oppression and enslavement, excessive wealth in the hands of a few, worsening ignorance, bigots claiming to serve God, the self-righteous claiming to revere God's truth, hatred declared holy, and what God does value -- love, mercy, justice, tolerance, peace -- declared expendable.

To our world Jesus has the same few words to say. Give it away, take up a cross, be strong, be weak, welcome, I forgive you.

If we could restrain our urge to shout on Easter Day, I think we could hear the silence of the empty tomb, the angel saying, "He is not here," and the risen Christ saying to his beloved, "Mary!"

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