In southeastern California there is a 282-foot gorge they call Death Valley. It is the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere and the hottest as well. It has gotten as high as 134 degrees. Less than two inches of rain fall in the valley each year and whatever streams are created evaporate immediately.
Several years ago, however, the barren waste-land received an amazing nineteen straight days of rain. Suddenly the bone-dry earth came to life. Seeds that had been dormant for years burst into bloom and Death Valley became, at least for a while, a misnomer. One of my favorite images comes from the Advent season where it says that desert will bloom.
This analogy of Death Valley is a powerful symbol of Easter. By virtue of Jesus' saving death and resurrection, all that was dead now lives. Beauty transcends the ugly. I'm sure that if we look at our lives we can identify with the barren seeds lying on the floor of Death Valley. Our world seems dead because of despair, violence, addiction and brokenness. Easter is a time to roll back the stone in our lives that prevents us from loving. Through the water of Baptism, sin and death are conquered; we are called today to embrace life and turn away from death.
In Romans we hear it said that death had no more power over Jesus. It is the same in our lives. Depression has no more power over us. Addiction has no more power over us. Violence has no more power over us.
The Russian Orthodox people have a wonderful custom of enjoying big meals on the day after Easter. They sit around and tell jokes. They tell jokes to remember the big joke God played on Satan. Satan thought he had won on Good Friday. Jesus was puton trial, whipped and crucified. It was the triumph of death and darkness. But then on Easter God rose His Son from the dead. Let us rejoice in this wonderful "joke" this Easter. "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it."
Fr. Bob Hawkins - MARCH 23, 2008