Surrounded by death, Mary saw life. She shares the Good News, “I have seen the Lord!”
Jesus meets the fearful, tearful disciples and says, “Peace be with you.”
Easter isn’t about ignoring pain or pretending that bad things don’t happen. Easter is about staring death in the face and proclaiming – God is bigger than that.
We try to make Easter something that it isn’t. It isn’t an absence of pain. It isn’t a lack of suffering. It isn’t avoiding fear, doubt, and sadness. Easter is more important and life-giving than that. Easter is discovering God in the midst of those terrible places.
We do not have a “Pollyanna” faith. We are not bound by a belief that tries to convince us that everything will be all right if we just believe. We are smart people. We know there is suffering across the globe and in our own backyards. Sometimes in our own lives. Easter does not ask us to ignore that. Easter releases us from the bad theology that states that a strong faith means an absence of misfortune.
The violence and despair of Holy Week left Thomas filled with anguish. After suffering abandonment and disillusionment, he states exactly what it will take for him to believe again, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Thomas wasn’t ready to trust a simple faith with easy answers. His life was more complicated than that – and so is ours.
Why would we believe in a faith that lacks suffering and death? Why would we want to turn off our brains and pretend that life is always easy, fair or carefree?
Easter offers vital glimpses of God meeting humans in the midst of turmoil:
- The first witnesses saw Jesus in the graveyard.
- Jesus enters the locked room where the disciples are cowering and crippled by their fear.
- Jesus walked with terrified disciples fleeing Jerusalem
Jesus is exactly where people need him most. In the middle of their pain – that’s where Jesus enters. Jesus is scarred. He has suffered. But he lives. And therefore, so can we.
Think about events that have scarred or altered your life. Easter recognizes the impact of those occurrences. Easter reassures us that with the help of Christ, we can go on from here.
The benediction at our Good Friday service announced, “This is not the end of our story. But now we must wait and watch for what God will do next.” Easter tells us to be on the lookout for where God will act. It may be unexpected. God may look different than we imagine. But the promise of Easter is that God will be there. And that gives us the ability to carry on.