Once upon a time, there was a man named Jesus.
Who was Jesus? He was a man. Probably a carpenter. A Jew. And in the world Jesus lived in, there were people with power and authority, and people without.
The Romans had armies and money and power.
The Jews did not. They were seen as different. They believed in a different God, they held strange rituals. The Romans were the ruling class and the Jews were a small, not very powerful minority.
But even in his own community, Jesus wasn't loved by everyone. Oh, he had friends, and he had followers. But he spoke truth to power. He made people uncomfortable. He said things should change, because things weren't okay the way they were.
He was scapegoated.
And he was killed.
This part of story is terrible. When I was a little kid, this story really bothered me. When Jesus is killed, that is a terrible, terrible thing.
Who are you in this story?
Are you the hero?
Are you one of his friends?
Are you a bystander?
Are you the persecutors?
Are you someone who doesn’t even know this is happening?
So this is a terrible part of the story, and yet, terrible things happen. Every day. Every place. Throughout time. Things fall apart.
The rest of the story is about things that both do and DON’T happen every day, every place, throughout time.
In the story, Jesus is buried and after three days people who love him come to mourn at his grave and his body isn't there.
Then they see him walking around.
And he talks to them.
And they go out to tell everyone they can the GOOD NEWS that Jesus is risen.
They tell the GOOD NEWS that they believe that Jesus is part of God, and God has brought Jesus back from the dead into a new life.
They tell the GOOD NEWS that they believe that if anybody, no matter how sinful a person they are, believes that Jesus is part of God, then after they die, God will bring them back from the dead into a new life in Heaven.
This kind of thing doesn't happen in our ordinary lives. It's more like a superhero story. SUPER JESUS!!!
But it also does happen. Even when things have fallen apart, and people do terrible things to each other, even then there is hope. There are choices.
There are flowers that grow from tiny seeds and crumpled up dead looking bulbs.
There are beliefs that bring us hope and return us to life. Even when life seems really terrible and hard.
We can choose to believe in hope. Each of us, here, now, can choose to look for good news and share it. Sometimes, we can choose to help someone who is hurt or treated unfairly or not included. Sometimes in big ways. But we can practice for that in little ways.
I don't know if everything happens for a reason. I don't know if it makes sense to believe Jesus died to fix our mistakes. Sins are just mistakes. But I do believe we can learn something from everything that happens. And the lesson I choose to take from what happened to Jesus is that when things fall apart, there is always the possibility that growth and new life will come after. And that I can be part of that possibility, if I choose to.