This is the most un-Eastery Easter I have experienced in my lifetime. Or is it?
That first Easter morning the male disciples were hiding in terror, expecting the tramp of boots and a knock on the door signalling that they were next. Some of the female disciples were fussing over how they would be able to perform the necessary tasks of wrapping the body in spices and linen when it was now hidden in a tomb behind a huge rock. In short, the followers of Jesus on that first Easter morning had death and terror and impossibility on their minds.
So it is for many of us. The unrelenting waves of news of death and economic dislocation due to Covid-19 in Europe and the US threaten to become a tsunami. We can scarcely imagine if and when things will be “back to normal”. Of course they won’t be. There will be a new normal – and we can’t imagine that either. I bob on a sea of emotional waves – from purposeful energy that rises to the challenge to a numbing fear that immobilises, from overwhelming, teary-eyed gratitude to essential workers to worry about those near and dear.
Perhaps then this Easter we are more like the first disciples than ever we were before. Can we believe the good news that the tomb is empty and the Lord is risen? Can we afford not to believe it? What does resurrection mean to us today, labouring under the dark cloud of a pandemic that is upending life as we know it?
The disciples would tell us: the resurrection upended life as they knew it. It took a while to lean into it, to trust it, to let it upend life. In the story it took until Pentecost, when the Spirit descended with tongues of flame and the power to convert babble to meaning. But when they finally grasped the good news with all their hearts, it gave them strength to do the impossible and to bear the unimaginable: to spread the good news like wildfire, to bear the resulting persecutions, to manage and resolve conflicts over who was in and who was out (all were in), and to live with hope day by day believing forever that love was stronger than death.
This resurrection business is our inheritance, our treasure. We stand with those who – when life is upended – sing a song of the open tomb, which is a song of fear that is overcome, strength in adversity, the triumph of love and the power of hope. That is our song. That will always be our song no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in.
Christ the Lord is risen today, indeed! Nothing can change that. It is written in the stars and on our hearts. It springs forth from our lips in resolute joy and eternal hope.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia. Amen.