MORE THOUGHTS 3
The journey through Holy Week to the enormity of Good Friday, the empty silence of Easter Saturday and the mind-shifting, life-shifting, death defeating light of Easter Sunday envelops us in the huge range of human emotions. It is because the Jesus story speaks to us, even in what is unspeakable, that there is always something in this crucial season that addresses us year after year. This year we come to this time bearing the stresses of a year of pandemic. We have learned a new vocabulary like QR codes, muting and unmuting (for people who have been able to “Zoom”); we have experienced life lived differently and got used to seeing people’s eyes above their face masks. We know about lockdowns and rejoice when restrictions are eased. We have learned the importance of genome sequencing and contact tracing. Consciously or unconsciously we carry many stresses that go alongside a world where there also seem to be endless stories of violence. These form a framework for our individual struggles that continue to challenge us. This Easter is different because of all this, and it should be, because the shadow of the cross is stretched out over it all, just as the empty tomb has a vastness that still tells of liberation for everyone and everything.
So, what does resurrection mean for us? If we sit with that question for a little while and try and formulate our response, there would, undoubtedly, be a range of answers. There might well be an emphasis on eternal life – that death is defeated, and that we have the faith that we will be reunited with loved ones who have died. There would be an understanding that Christ has carried away our sin, our failures, guilt and shame, so that we may begin again because of his sacrificial submission. There would be statements about the fact that God’s purpose of life and love could never be defeated, no matter what evil humans could throw at it. So, what does resurrection mean for us, this year in particular, when so much seems contrary to what we understand God to be about?
Maybe we are learning more these days about humility and vulnerability, but also about community and compassion and the fact that there is far more that unites us in our human frailty than what divides us in our pride. We celebrate the power of what God brought about on Easter Sunday, but also that the message of resurrection is not just for one day. After all, as all the gospel accounts tell us, the transformation that would occur among Jesus’ followers did not happen all at once. It had to take root within them and grow into the knowledge that their lives and hopes were not buried but finding new ways to flourish. That understanding continued to grow as they lived in it. Resurrection life is something for every day, something that allows us to draw strength, even from a place where so much seems lost and lifeless and we cannot see the way ahead. Easter Day shows us what God is about. Someone said recently that, as Jesus knew, it means grasping that our purpose is bigger than the challenge.
We shall go out with hope of resurrection,
We shall go out, from strength to strength go on.
We shall go out and tell our stories boldly,
Tales of a love that will not let us go.
© June Boyce-Tillman