In the scheme of things, 1,982 years isn’t really that long. Homo Sapiens have been around for 200,000 years. So 2,000 years is really only 1% of our history, as a species. Yet 2,000 years ago one man showed up who had a huge impact on the course of that history.
1,982 years ago today was not a good day for him. He was arrested, brought before multiple governmental and religious authorities, generally denied guilt of any crime but flogged anyway and eventually executed in a most cruel and unusual way; crucifixion. His crime? Teaching that people are “children of God”, claiming it himself, and that the Kingdom of God was “at hand”, present now, and available to all.
He cited as the two greatest commandments, “Love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might and with all your mind”, and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
He taught love, the divinity of all things, powerful, and available to all. His messages stirred something within people. It still does today. You don’t have to subscribe to or belong to or pledge fealty to any person or organization to glean some pretty cool stuff from what this guy taught.
But at the time, this message of love and personal empowerment made him a threat. So they made him into a villain, and killed him. Kill the messenger that taught personal empowerment and love.
It was not at all a good Friday.
And here we are 1,982 years later, and as profound as his teachings and his impact upon our world have been, I wonder what we have really learned. How is that loving God and loving our neighbor thing going? By the looks of things, not so well. Better, maybe, in some circles. And in others, clearly, not so much.
Now I know that we can get all prickly about religion, about specifics and semantics, but if we can set that aside for just a minute maybe we can open our minds and our hearts enough to consider the possibility that he might have been on to something.
We can be so quick to dismiss, without even finding out for ourselves.
What if we created a new tradition around this whole Easter thing, just as an experiment? What if we practiced what he preached, and found out for ourselves if there was any truth to it? What if we took these three days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and loved… for three whole straight days. Just as an experiment?
Imagine if a committed group of people were to agree and say ok, lets try this. Let’s do this thing. We’ll be a pebble in the pond, and see what happens. We could send love notes or notes of gratitude, send money to a cause that means something to you, reconnect with long-lost people, plant a tree, give a dollar to the panhandler, help an old lady across the street, thank everybody, go volunteer at the shelter, whatever. It wouldn’t matter how we loved, but only that we loved. The Sufi poet Rumi says, “There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
Oops. There I’ve done it. Found the same message in another religion. Lots of other religions. Look. Islam, Buddhism, Baha’i, Sikhism, it’s there, in all of them. Love, and the power of it, within each of us.
This isn’t a religion-specific thing. It’s not a “religious” thing at all. It’s a spiritual thing. It’s a human thing. It’s what we have in common.
Imagine if the whole world were to try it, just for three days.
Hey, don’t kill the messenger. Try it yourself. It’s three days for God’s sake. Be bold. Experiment. What if he was right? What if God IS love, and Love IS the greatest power, and the kingdom of God IS at hand? And what if… a simple three day experiment… turned out to be a game-changer?
What if… you could change your whole life, in three days… by simply changing your mind?