Huh, why am I still talking about Easter on May fifteenth? Everybody knows Easter was way back in March this year! Well, yes, Easter Sunday, the commemoration of the day when Jesus rose from the dead, was on March 31, but Easter actually is a season that lasts seven weeks in the Episcopal Church and some other denominations. Our Easter celebration doesn’t end until Pentecost, next Sunday. Alleluia!
A few years ago at this time, when my son Nicholas was four, he suddenly asked me, “Is it really true that Jesus got killed dead and then came back alive again, or is that just a believing?”
I was shaken. I had been so impressed at his developing faith and thought I had done a good job telling the Easter story so that he could understand it, yet he was doubting. Did he think it was just another story like “Cinderella”? On the other hand, the fact is that believing is the main point here; we believe because we believe, because we have faith, not because we have scientific proof. Hmmm, how to answer?
I said, “Yes, it’s true, but it’s also a belief. We know Jesus is truly alive because we feel him in our hearts. But we weren’t there when Jesus got killed. We can’t be sure that every bit of the story is exactly what really happened. We just believe that that’s how it happened. The important part is knowing Jesus now and trying to be like him.” Nicholas thought about this for a long time, but he seemed to find it a clear enough answer. I continued to worry about whether I had said the right thing.
The very next day, Nicholas asked me, “Is it really true that everything in the entire world is made out of tiny dots too small to see, or is that just a believing?”
Atoms. They had been talking about atoms in preschool. Well, gosh, how do I know that atoms are real? I never looked through a microscope that powerful. I’m just taking the scientists’ word that they have proven the existence of atoms and proven that atoms are the building blocks of every dang thing on the entire planet and even millions of miles away, and upon reflection I found that I was not even sure how they can be so certain about that without having taken their microscopes way over there to inspect the stardust. Of course, I realize that if I were to look it up, I would find lots and lots of very serious science proving it all, and if I tried hard enough I might even understand exactly what they did at every step and conclude that it was flawless and inarguable–but with my current knowledge, the existence of atoms is a matter of unquestioned belief.
Actually, I remember that when I was about four years old, my daddy told me that everything is made out of atoms holding hands, and different types of atoms have different numbers of hands and like to hold hands with certain types of atoms more than others, and this hand-holding is what holds everything together. I remember learning the song “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” and thinking of God as the one who made all the atoms and gave them love to motivate their hand-holding so that all things can be. In school we learned that even atoms are made out of even still tinier dots, and that these all hold together with electricity and forces, so it can all be explained. I believe that. I believe scientific principles underlie everything in the universe. It’s just that I also believe in Somebody who thought up all those principles in the first place and made the tiny dots want to hold hands and do things together.
So I told Nicholas, “Yes, it’s true. Remember how Jesus said that God knows every hair on our heads? It goes even farther than that. Every hair is made of tiny dots that are working together to make hair. God knows every one of those dots, too. Every tiny dot has its job in making our universe work. We couldn’t do anything without them all cooperating. Isn’t that amazing? But we’re so big, we can’t even see those dots without special tools, so those of us who haven’t seen them have to just believe it’s true.”
Believing in the Resurrection, believing in the Amazing Atom Artist, and celebrating seven weeks of Easter work for me!