It took me awhile to figure out why I got uncomfortable every Easter Sunday when the pastor said, “He is risen,” and all around me voices droned, “He is risen indeed.” Finally it occurred to me that this rote response lacks meaning. For me, that is. I know I’m probably in the minority, and I am certainly not advocating the removal of this part of Easter Sunday service. But for me the wonder and awe of the resurrection cannot be expressed in an automatic response.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get annoyed with the Bible for not giving me enough details. Something horrendously interesting will happen, and the scribe gives it one summary verse, and I’m going, “Hey, what happened next?”
Not so with the account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I cannot help but be moved by the details of the event. Crowds chanting, a purple robe, a crown of thorns, darkness that came over the land, wine and vinegar, a tomb cut out of rock, spices, sunrise, a man dressed in white with a message for Mary Magdalene. Wow! It’s so much more than words. I can see it in my mind and feel it in my heart.
As writers, it’s our job to never lose our wonder in the world and its Creator, in humankind, in sound and sight, in touch and sent, in love. Anne Lamott puts it like this:
This is our goal as writers, I think; to help others have this sense of--please forgive me--wonder, of seeing things anew, things that can catch us off guard, that break in on our small, bordered worlds. When this happens, everything feels more spacious. Try walking around with a child who's going, "Wow, wow! Look at that dirty dog! Look at that burned-down house! Look at that red sky!" And the child points and you look, and you see, and you start going, "Wow! Look at that huge crazy hedge! Look at that teeny little baby! Look at the scary dark cloud!" I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world--present and in awe.
Why does the account of Christ’s crucifixion have the power to affect us thousands of years after it was written? Because the vivid details make us see it anew every time we read it. The words make us present. And, most importantly, the story of the resurrection cannot fail to draw a completely personal response from our very core—awe.
Evangeline Denmark has storytelling on her heart and in her blood. The daughter of novelist, Donita K. Paul, Evangeline grew up living and breathing good stories. She has co-authored two children’s books, The Dragon and the Turtle (Waterbrook Press, 2010) and The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari (Waterbrook Press, 2011) and also writes adult fiction. Evangeline is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, serving as chapter secretary. You can find Evangeline online at www.breathenbreatheout.blogspot.com and www.dragonandturtle.com