25th March 2015
We hear it year after year. Don’t we? Easter is a time to celebrate! Have a party! Buy chocolate eggs! Organise an Easter Egg hunt! Do whatever it might be to have fun at Easter. Why? Well there are lots of reasons but for Christians that first Easter speaks of hope and new life; “the second big bang” as Rowan Williams once put it. Not a bad cause for celebration I would say.
But wherever we stand on Easter and its significance I wonder how does it all really make us feel? Are we excited? Joyful? Indifferent? Puzzled by it all? Perhaps even dismissive?
According to the account in Luke’s Gospel, the first answer was in fact: puzzled, terrified, unbelieving and perplexed.
I think that’s good news actually. So many people in and around Church or Christian life know that they are supposed to feel happy and joyful at Eastertide but find in their hearts a little niggle – or perhaps more than just a niggle – saying “Are you really sure about all of this? Isn’t it all a bit odd? And how on earth will Easter pay the mortgage, save the marriage, save my job, feed the hungry, reconcile and heal divided people, bring justice or even, dare I say it, make you a better Christian?
Well if you have got a niggle somewhere about all of this Easter business you are in very good company. Three terrified women, a bunch of grumpy and frightened disciples and a perplexed Peter. They are all there in the story.
And it all makes the point: what happened on that first Easter was something nobody expected. God had done something extraordinary and surprising – shocking even – and nobody saw it coming.
The challenge and invitation of experiencing the Easter story for ourselves is the challenge of holding our mind and whole life open to a God who does unexpected things. Life transforming things, things we’d never have imagined in our wildest dreams. Like raising Jesus from the dead.
So Luke’s account of the story is about people like us? Muddled? Unsure? Afraid even? But showing up. Going to have a look, still not quite understanding but somehow unable to let go. There just is something in Easter even if we can – at times - struggle to articulate it. It’s about people like us who in the story find a stone rolled away when we think it is impossible but not yet understanding why it’s happened or what’s going to happen next.
Easter isn’t about celebrating with a kind of easy certainty. It’s about praying and worshipping in front of a world of strange new possibilities and being open to God’s surprising but good future. And that – I think - means letting go a bit and letting God in to our lives.
With my prayers for you all this Easter time.