Where to begin? Well, I suppose I should start by saying I’m sorry. After all, what do I know about you? Nothing, except for the fact that you are not okay. Not even close! Neither am I. That’s not what we’ve been told though. I for one have been raised up in the world’s assurance that I’m okay for as long as I can remember. The security blanket of my “okayishness” is well worn at this point. Still, I’m not okay. Neither are you. Sorry.
Who decided it was a good idea to tell us all that we’re all okay when we’re all so clearly not? Does the left blame the right or does the right blame the left? Are we all culpable? Does anyone dare speak the truth?
I think of Johnny Cash, that sage Man in Black. I’d love to wear a rainbow every day, and tell the world that everything’s ok. But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back, till things get brighter, I’m the man in black. He was onto something. I’m guessing, if he was here now, he’d still be wearing black.
I think of that brave surgeon standing over my wife as confusion set in over all of us. We were scared. Operating Rooms can be like that. The anesthesiologist urged us to stay calm, saying over and over again that everything was okay. Finally, the surgeon had enough of it. She spoke up. “Stop saying that! Everything is not ok!” Not a week goes by that I don’t thank God for that surgeon and her brave honesty.
Believing that everything is okay can be a dangerous thing, especially when you’re living in a pandemic. Before you can find your way out, you have to at least acknowledge the hard, cold truth. People of faith struggle with this sometimes. Our faith is often only big enough to say, “God is good.” When’s the last time we said, “God, this stinks!” I think God might just appreciate the honesty.
However, there is another side to the fact that we aren’t okay. A good side. No, a GREAT side. I remember a wedding feast in 2012 in Paris. Imagine a great banquet hall. Gold embroidery everywhere. A wedding cake ten feet tall surrounded by mountains of profiteroles! Foie Gras hors d’oeuvres! Coeur de boeuf! Tomates à la Provençale! Fish! Oysters! Wine! Champagne! More profiteroles! Cheese carts! More wine and champagne – after all, this is France! Around the fifth course a server came to our table and asked in a delightful French accent, “Is everything okay?”
My mind raced. Okay? No, it’s not okay. This is the best meal of my life! Maybe you should have asked, “Is the meal unforgettable?” or “Is the food divine?” or “Are you too transfixed by the sheer perfection of everything to respond?” I simply said, “The meal is not just okay. Far from it! This is magical!”
Our Easter narrative demands us exclaim that we are not okay. Far from it! This is not an easy thing to do. We have to look at the darkness of Good Friday, a pandemic of such spiritual significance that any chance of our being okay is entirely ruined. We must also must confess a resurrection. This too is a strangely hard thing to do! As soon as we see the light, we like to pull that old security blanket right over our eyes, choosing the comfort of remaining “just okay” over life changing joy. The Easter story demands more of us - more of the church. The church, now as always, exists to bear witness to the cross of Good Friday and the empty tomb of Easter. We exist to help this world lament its pandemic stricken state. We exist, even in our isolation, to bear witness that the resurrection of the son of God is a globally redemptive act that elevates every single molecule of creation so infinitely above “the okay” that all we are left to say is, “I’m not okay! Far from it! Hallelujah!”