“Whatever you do,” my wise New Testament professor lectured many years ago, “Don’t describe Easter as the resuscitation of a corpse.” It was a startling statement. We are, after all, talking about the fact that Jesus was dead and then alive again.
Easter is about that – and so much more.
If Easter was simply the annual celebration of a 2000 year old historical event it wouldn’t be very much. Who wants Easter to become of weary recounting of a long-ago occurrence?
Easter is not so much “ancient history” as it is “current events.” Easter is not only about what God did in the past, but about what God is doing right now.
- When someone encounters hope in the midst of despair, that’s Easter.
- When someone discerns some comfort even while dwelling in the shadow of death, that’s Easter.
Every time we encounter the absolute edge of our abilities and realize that we don’t have the strength to go on alone, we can pray Jesus’ prayer – not my will, but thine be done. Finding God in that place? That’s Easter.
Easter happens when
- We’ve come to “the end” – the end of a job, a relationship, our finances, our health – and then discover God is in that frightening, overwhelming place.
- We have experienced loss or betrayal. When our spirits are as bleak as the night, when our phones are as silent as the grave, when it seems that all of our friends are sleeping or have disappeared. That’s when we should start looking for the promised light in the darkness.
Easter can be the over-the-top joy of trumpets and the Hallelujah chorus. The experience of hope and new life can fill our hearts until they are bursting with love.
Easter can also be a quiet encounter in a place of death and despair where we hear a whispered voice saying, “I know you. And I care.” Easter can be the pure, simple grace of discovering we are loved.
Amazingly, the Bible describes this life-changing, history-altering moment as a quiet one. The angels share this Good News with the women at the tomb. Just like when Jesus was born, these heavenly messengers are there to reassure, “Do not be afraid.” Just because nothing is as you imagined, simply because you are experiencing something you never dreamed possible – that is not a reason to be afraid. There is joy to be shared. He is not dead, but alive.
The news gets passed along, one person at a time. Mary tells Peter. Peter tells John. Jesus speaks a single word to Mary and her life is filled with hope.
When Jesus saw Mary by the tomb, there wasn’t an explosion of exuberant celebration – no parades of balloons and flowers. Jesus simply spoke her name, “Mary.” In that moment, God was saying, “I know where you are and what you are experiencing. I am with you.” That’s Easter.