Easter is the high holy day of Christianity and deservedly so. It defines the relationship between humanity and the divine, life and death, sin and redemption in a complicated faith story. Believers hold that God sacrificed his only Son, to take away the sins of the world, as the ultimate scapegoat, who then ascended to heaven in his human form. By doing so, he enabled humans to follow, and participate in everlasting life.
Naturally, other religions don’t share this view, and, more to the point, are puzzled by it. Maybe you are, too. Monotheists, like Jews and Muslims, see a vast, impassable chasm between God and humanity. God is other. The combination of man and God in one being is incomprehensible.
Polytheistic traditions, however, are very familiar with gods popping down to earth in human form, procreating, fighting, blessing, miracle making. Think of Zeus fathering most of the heroes, like Perseus, Theseus, and Heracles, by young virgins, like Alcmene and Danae. They don’t see anything particularly unusual about these trips back and forth between heaven and earth, or of Jesus being both god and man.
What may interest you, and you have surely inferred this from the readings of the Canonical and non-Canonical Gospels and the title of today’s service, is that for hundreds of years, people who considered themselves Christians didn’t believe the Easter story as we currently know it, either. The range of interpretations of Jesus’s death and resurrection stories encompasses the full range of monotheistic and polytheistic views – not unlike the range of beliefs represented by Unitarian Universalists in this or any congregation.