“Indeed!” And “Alleluia!” The Pesky Easter Acclamations (or, O-H! …)
Jesus is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
I’ve been thinking about that “indeed” we say in the typical Easter call-and-response, and I’ve decided that when you stop and think about it, it’s pesky.
Christians say it every year, of course, but we have to admit that it can be a bit…routine.
It’s like the Ohio State fans: when someone shouts out, “O-H!” they start hyperventilating and busting out in hives if someone within earshot doesn’t say in return and straightaway, “I-O!”
So, sneak up behind a Christian, anytime of the year, frankly, and whisper a “He is risen!’ and you are bound to get a full-throated “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”
The word ‘indeed’ means, actually, ‘in fact,’ or ‘in truth,’ which means that when we say the whole, “He is risen indeed!” we’re saying, as some of my people of heritage might have been wont to say, “Ja, sure, you betchta!”
Others whom I know and love might be more tempted to say something along the lines of, ‘Damn straight he did.”
Point is, it is an affirmation of the highest degree. We are of the mind that yes, yes indeed, Jesus is risen!
Thing of it is, an affirmation like that tends to have consequences. Like, an ‘indeed’ is not destined to fizzle out.
A fizzled out ‘indeed’ would be like this: “Jesus is risen! Jesus is risen…Whatevs, actually.”
It would be O-H!….
Truth be told, I’m writing my Easter blog a day after Easter because yesterday was filled to the brim with festivities and food and mostly, above all, family.
But a little weird though it felt, not writing a blog on the day most key to me personally and theologically, this truth took the edge off: the whole blame point of the ‘Indeed’ is that the news of the resurrection isn’t a one day deal.
It changes everything.
Here’s the other thing I’ve been thinking about with that standard Easter season back-and-forth: the ‘indeed’ isn’t the only pesky thing in it.
We follow that ‘indeed’ with an “Alleluia!” chaser.
That means that not only do we mean it when we say that Jesus is risen (“indeed”), and that we are all in for whatever the heck it actually means on the ground (“indeed + !”), but it also means that we are darn happy about it.
It means that we realize that death, in all its forms, no longer has power, and that is good news!
It might not smack of such, depending on the thing we are having to admit is, actually, death-dealing.
Sort of like all those times when a kid has a parent, filled with love and concern for the child’s well-being, placing down a plate filled with an array of vegetables. “You get to eat veggies!” says the Dad. “I get to eat veggies indeed! Alleluia!” said relatively few kids ever.
So the effects of the Easter call-and-response could look a little something like any one of these:
”Jesus is risen, and you are forgiven, and you are freed to forgive yourself and others and move on, leaving resentment and hate behind!”
”Jesus is risen, and I am forgiven, and I am freed to forgive myself and others and move on, leaving resentment and hate behind indeed! Alleluia!”
”Jesus is risen, and your grief is real but not God’s agenda or future for you!”
”Jesus is risen, and my grief is real but not God’s agenda or future for me indeed! Alleluia!”
”Jesus is risen, and you no longer need to trust in material things, and you can give way more of your money away to needy people and causes than you do!”
”Jesus is risen, and I no longer need to trust in material things, and I can give my money away to needy people and causes than I do indeed! Alleluia!”
”Jesus is risen, and you can make radical changes in your life-habits to help save the earth and all living creatures!”
”Jesus is risen, and I can make radical changes in my life-habits to help save the earth and all living creatures indeed! Alleluia!”
”Jesus is risen, and you are freed to leave behind super entrenched toxic habits and behaviors and people who have super entrenched toxic habits and behaviors!”
”Jesus is risen, and I am freed to leave behind super entrenched toxic habits and behaviors and people who have super entrenched toxic habits and behaviors indeed! Alleluia!”
”Jesus is risen, and you can see nationalistic claims on your allegiance for what they are!”
”Jesus is risen, and I can see nationalistic claims on my allegiance for what they are indeed! Alleluia!”
”Jesus is risen, and you can rise up to raze down systems that create inequity and harm!”
”Jesus is risen, and you can rise up to raze down systems that create inequity and harm indeed! Alleluia!”
”Jesus is risen, and you are freed to find the courage to call out hate and bigotry when you see it!”
”Jesus is risen, and I am freed to find the courage to call out hate and bigotry when I see it indeed! Alleluia!”
”Jesus is risen, and his resurrection instead of your sin, guilt, and shame—or that of others’ who impose theirs on you—define you!”
”Jesus is risen, and his resurrection instead of my sin, guilt, and shame—or that of other’s who impose theirs on me—defines me indeed! Alleluia!”
”Jesus is risen, and you are freed to be who you are called to be.”
”Jesus is risen, and I am freed to be who I am called to be indeed! Alleluia!”
See, here’s the pesky and the funky thing going on here: with this Easter Call-and-Response, we are, at the same time, proclaiming, confessing, repenting, and rejoicing.
We are proclaiming that Jesus is risen.
We are confessing that we have a knack for trusting death more than this news of life.
We are repenting of the ways that we allow death to trick us, tempt us, taunt us.
We are rejoicing that we are now freed to be in radical communion with God, with others, with the world…and, frankly, in a world when we are pulled to be any number of things who we are not, with ourselves.
That’s a lot of wallop for a handful of words, a couple of exclamation points, and a little Sunday a.m. dialogue that shapes not just worship but the worshippers.
It’s a pesky deal, this thing of throwing one’s lot to the Risen One.
But worth an Alleluia! anyway.
(And it is never ever nice to sneak up on a Buckeye to say “O-H! and then walk away, or worse follow it up with a rowdy “Hail! Hail! to Michigan indeed! Alleluia!” My theology tells me that such a thing will be forgiven, but my OSU friends and family will “I-O” that one down followed with an obnoxiously loud INDEED plus a Carmen Ohio chaser.)
You can now pre-order Anna’s upcoming book published by Fortress Press! I Can Do No Other: The Church’s New Here We Stand Moment is available here, and is slated to come out on October 1, 2019.
”This book is born out of the conviction that at least two gods are currently competing for our collective trust: nationalism (and its many sub-manifestations) and quietism. Both make a case for and a claim on our allegiance, each by way of different motivations of self and institutional protection. Madsen looks at today’s modern context and asks: Where will the church stand in a day that is marked by globalization, polarization, racism, bigotry, and debates about justice for humanity and for the earth itself? While the Reformation church was built on the foundation of justification by grace, Madsen calls people of faith to a new reformation that will focus on standing for justice in the world. Madsen delves into who Jesus was, and how our claim that he died and was raised establishes our faith and impacts the way we live it out. She pays attention to Luther’s theology and juxtaposes it with our present context. She explores recent examples of Nazi resistance, liberation theology, black and womanist theology, and feminist theology, each of which come at social justice in their unique ways, with a common conviction that justice work is central to the Christian life. She speaks of how our faith grounding and our faith history weave together and entwine themselves into our present moment, offering both warnings and encouragement. And last, a case is made that justice, anchored in justification, is our new Reformation moment, one not inconsistent with Luther’s theology, but weighted differently to address the different weighty concerns of our day. A study guide is included to encourage group conversation and action.”