Easter Jeans - Day 1
Sacrament > Status Quo
Welcome to the Easter Jeans reflection mini-series. I’m so glad you’re here! I’m trying something new. You may read the post in full below, or if you’d rather, you can also listen to it in audio format by clicking here: Easter Jeans Day 1
“He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.” John 13:1
Sacrament > Status Quo
I was pushing forty when I stopped to consider my true heart toward the death and resurrection of Jesus, known lump-sum as “Easter.”
Along with Santa Claus, Cindy Lauper, and Smurfette, there had been no Easter bunny in my childhood. Still, I had accumulated quite a collection of pastel Easterly sentiments along the way. Frilly dresses, “creamed” eggs (my dad forbade us from calling them deviled) rescued from dip-dyed shells, passion plays, cantatas, seersucker, baked hams with pineapple glaze. There were the perfume of lilies, family get-togethers, The Old Rugged Cross sung in solemn, three-part harmony. And finally, a dusty flannelgraph depicting an empty tomb. These are the images “Easter” used to conjure up in me. The holy day has always been central to my faith, but the story arc had been flattened by the weight of the world.
Without even realizing it, I had lost Jesus – the flesh and blood person, the savior of the world, in the plastic easter basket grass and general hoopla.
Forty is already a distant memory to me, but the longing for something more meaningful remains. Amid wars, a pandemic, a culture that constantly churns toward change and division, I’m more desperate than ever. I need to feel something true. There’s no time like now.
The resurrection begins in Eden, but we’ll start right where we are, in the thick of Holy Week. Spanning palm fronds to the open tomb, celebration to celebration, these bookend Sundays are strung together by a devastating middle, where lies are told and a kiss kicks open the door to death.
It was Thursday when Jesus gathered his disciples in what would shape our enduring framework for communion. Bitter herbs, betrayers, and broken bread. The scene did not scream “party!” but whispered “remember.”
Come closer. Share with me. Let’s not forget this meal, this moment.
What’s known as the last supper of Jesus’ earthly life echoed his humble beginning – a darkened, cramped room, surrounded by the ones he loved – ordinary people trying to be faithful. His final words to his earthly, wider-circle family (and to us) were both rich and costly.
“So I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35
“Just as I have loved you,” said the God who left Heaven to be physically near us and all of our baggage.
From beginning to end and all through the middle, Jesus’ life was oriented toward the radical embrace of the utterly unspectacular. Jesus came near because God so loved the world.
As I wrote in my first book,
“These days I picture Jesus in faded jeans and a rocker T. Maybe a flannel when it’s cold. I mean, the robe he wears in most pictures is fine. That image served me well for more than thirty years. But Jesus is as relevant here in my new neighborhood as he was in ancient Samaria. The Jesus who dismantled the life I chose didn’t call my name from centuries ago or from foreign lands. He descended from heaven and donned a belted toga for John and Rahab and Zacchaeus, and he does the same for us, meeting us right in this moment, wholly with us in our messed-up world.”
A few years ago I contemplated the dress hanging in my closet with the tags still attached. If there was ever a day that warrants a special dress, it might be Easter. I knew the drill. The older ladies who pepper our congregation would be dressed to the nines. There would be little girls decked out in frills and bonnets, like I had once been. Some of the men might turn up in neckties.
But then I thought of our friends from the Work Release center up the street who would slide into the pew a few minutes late wearing the same jeans they wear to their factory jobs.
That’s when I knew I would be there next to them in my own Easter jeans. (And in that one slim moment, the curious name of this series was born.)
Kinship is a curious friend. Drawing near to ordinary people in low places will change our lens for everything. It's safe to assume God doesn't have big opinions on the particulars of our preferred dress code. But the life of Christ demonstrates clearly – who we choose to gather with matters deeply.
“The way things were” is only relevant until we gather new information. Now we know: the way we spend our love is the way we spend our lives.
Walking in solidarity with those with the least amount of power, the fewest material resources, the loudest doubts, places us squarely in communion with our suffering Savior.
“Love one another,” Jesus said. “Especially when it disrupts the status quo,” his life implied.
This is how the world will know we belong to the risen King.
One Simple Way to Rethink Easter
Jesus calls us to love people not in theory, but practically. A cute sundress or Easter Jeans aside, what can we do to place ourselves in solidarity with the hurting people around us? If we seek a truer celebration, the guest list for our weekend festivities is a great place to start. As we trade status-quo for sacrament, meaning will not come from a glitzier menu or a more epic egg-hunt, but in how widely we cast our net around “family”. Forget about inviting people to Easter services. Who could you invite to Easter lunch?