When Amanda and Eliot were young, we’d often fly a kite on Easter afternoon. After lunch, I’d feel groggy from the busy and glad morning of worship leadership, but the kids would be amped-up on chocolate bunnies, peanut-butter cup eggs, and jelly- beans. I’d want to nap; they’d want to run.
We’d assemble a kite, run down a gentle slope or across an open field, and hope for enough of a breeze for the kite to achieve liftoff. The children would sing “Let’s go fly a kite” from Mary Poppins or would cheer for the kite to defy gravity as if it were a fledgling bird taking its first flight. If the kite became airborne, we’d watch the kite fly higher and higher in the air and take turns holding the tethering string.
Methodist minister Gerald Kennedy told a story about a little boy who flew a kite on a lovely spring day. His kite climbed so high in the sky that it disappeared from sight, but he held tightly to the string. A watching adult asked playfully: “Why are you holding on, since you can’t see the kite anymore?’ The little boy said, “Because I know it’s there; I can still feel the tug of it.”
There are things we hold onto, not because we see them, but because we feel their tug. They keep us facing upward and outward, oriented toward hope and the horizon. Faith, joy, and love are all “invisible,” but they have real effects on us. We don’t have to see them to experience them. They lure our attention beyond the immediate and beyond ourselves. Their intangibility doesn’t make them unreal. They validate themselves by the strong and tender pull they have on our hearts.
The resurrected Jesus was visible for only a handful of weeks and to a selected number of people. The Holy Spirit, though, gives us Easter hearts which feel the pull—the lure–of his presence in places and experiences where he isn’t immediately visible. With Easter hearts, we know beyond sensory knowing that he is with all of those who are left out and left behind and that he is with us when we feel pushed aside and put down. In our hearts and spirits, we experience his forgiveness, acceptance, and welcome. We feel surges of his vitality, energy, and gladness.
Jesus is alive in the world and in us, though we don’t see him. Instead, we feel the mysterious and marvelous tug of his risen presence.