Resurrection, Superheroes, and the Fight For Justice
Growing up in church, Easter was always my favorite holiday as a child. Although our observance of Christmas was sure to mean new presents for me, somehow Easter was the one I enjoyed the most. I loved the Easter speeches we children recited on Easter Sunday during Sunday School. To be sure, I liked some of the more secular customs as well: Easter Egg hunts, Easter candy, visiting the Easter bunny, and the new Easter clothes I got to shop for and wear on Sunday morning. I also loved the music. In fact, one my all-time favorite hymns is “Christ Arose,” which I loved because of its beautiful melody and because it was just fun to the sing. I love how the song starts out with a beautiful but somber sound as the lyrics comment on the experience of death and gloom inside the tomb, but then the way the tempo suddenly picks up and the notes start to ascend the scale mimicking with sound Christ’s transition from horizontal to vertical, from death to life. I lived for the singing of that hymn every Easter!
Moreover, that hymn captures, so beautifully, what I find the most compelling part of our annual Easter celebration: the resurrection narrative itself. It has everything that makes a story great: a lovable protagonist (Jesus), antagonists (the religious leaders), and an ultimate battle between the two as the leaders struggle to maintain their influence and power over the people, worried Jesus is upstaging them. So they plot and scheme (as antagonists tend to do), crafting a plan to ultimately annihilate Jesus. Sadly, they accomplish it! Jesus is totally abandoned by nearly everyone and dies a painful awful death…until suddenly in an unprecedented and miraculous move Jesus is resurrected from the dead, proving he has power over everything!!! Even death! What a story! This is the stuff of Hollywood action movies and superhero films!
The best part? Jesus is actually no superhero and this story is no script for the next Hollywood summer blockbuster; no, folks this is real life. No credits are going to roll, no lights are coming up. In fact, Jesus did triumph over death and reigns now and forevermore victoriously over all death and evil. And it’s this power that gives me hope to keep trying and keep walking in my purpose, standing up for what I believe.
Our world, though it has it redemptive moments and experiences, is full of pain, agony, violence, and injustice. I am an African American woman, a citizen of the United States— and it feels like being Black in my country is one of the hardest things to be right now. It is no secret that my people are encountering injustice and suffering violence at the hands of the very people (police) we pay to protect us. The world has watched and seen our pain and many have joined our cause in person, in prayer, and in solidarity. For that, I give thanks. #BlackLivesMatter is not just a hashtag; its a truth that so many are fighting to uphold.
And in the midst of all of this chaos, when I am my saddest about our times and the death that is constantly looming just above our heads, I can remember Jesus. I am reminded that the doom and gloom of the grave is not permanent. Moreover, I can remember the power of resurrection is real and that ultimately we will rise above all that threatens to kill, steal from, and destroy us. Our spiritual enemy is a defeated one. And because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, we will be victorious.
I encourage you, my brothers and sisters as you walk through your own personal and communal struggles, injustices, and pains to remember Jesus and the power of his resurrection. The tomb does not last forever, but eventually the stone will be rolled away. Keep fighting for justice, peace, and love—even when you get discouraged. Find a way to push through. In the end, you will win because Jesus—the resurrected one—already promised you, “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:20)
Arionne Yvette Williams
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (USA)