The Most Important Word You May Have Said Today

  Today, millions of Christians around the world have participated in a greeting very much like this:

Greeting: Christ is risen! Response: Christ is risen indeed!

Perhaps you were one who said this. We call this the Paschal Greeting, and it has been said by Christians to one another on Easter morning (and other days) for centuries, in hundreds of languages. While all four of the words carry significant meaning, the word that caught my attention as we said it today was the last one: "indeed."

"Indeed" says that this really happened, and that all of the Christians who have said it to one another throughout all of their times and cultures have done so for a specific reason:

Because there was a historical Sunday morning, when a real woman with a shady past went to look for the physical, human corpse of a Jewish teacher from Nazareth whom she had seen be executed and laid in an actual tomb, but the body was not there.

And Christians like me have said these words to one another for so long, and included the word "indeed," because we believe that he who was dead really was alive again. "Indeed."

I'm very glad that someone centuries ago thought it important to include "indeed" in this greeting. It means that we are not saying to one another:

"Christ has risen! Maybe so!"

nor: "Christ has risen! Doesn't that sound nice?"

nor: "Christ has risen! And it makes me feel so good!"

nor: "Christ has risen! And the moral of the story is..."

No, when we say these words, we are saying that a day actually happened when, if we would have been there, we would have seen it with our eyes.

"Indeed" really matters, because it reminds us that as much as theology is important stuff in Christianity, so is history. If Christ's rising were not "indeed," there should be no Christianity, and we should give up our 21 centuries of fascination with this rabbi. But if it happened "indeed," everything else about our lives needs to be evaluated in light of what Mary Magdalene experienced that Sunday morning near Jerusalem. We need to start and end all of our theology by looking at this man who lived, died, then was alive again. Because he was human like us, we need to learn to live the way that he showed and taught us, and because he was uniquely divine, we need to remain focused on him as on no one else.

What difference would it make to you if we didn't say "indeed"? What else does "indeed" mean to us?