This Easter isn't the same, and that's fine.
Did you know that it’s Easter season?
This is a time filled with joy, celebration and hallelujahs. Right? We are supposed to dye eggs, eat ham, go to church to see our friends and family members who have returned from far away to spend the holiday together. We are supposed to celebrate the victory that Christ won.
Living in Pennsylvania, I have the privilege of witnessing a resurrection all around me, watching as plants that have appeared dead since the end of autumn suddenly burst in glorious color and life. It has been a long winter, and I was looking forward to this spring.
But to all our surprise this spring has brought literal death. It has brought great sadness. It has stolen the hopes and dreams of millions. We are going through a collective trauma, which will likely affect some forever. The resurrection that surrounds us feels ironic at best, and at worst, a cruel joke.
We look at Easter with joy, over 2000 years since it has occurred, with great cries of hallelujahs because we have the advantage of hindsight – of remembrance. We know how it fits into the big picture. For us it is a celebration of the greatest event in human history. It is the event that our faith is built on. This Holy Week, however, I have tried to think about what the disciples would’ve felt. When the women went to go tell the others that the tomb was empty, only one (maybe 2, depending on the account) believed what the women had said.
“Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.” (Luke 24:12 NIV)
Betrayals by a friends.
The witness of a horrible and embarrassing death.
Now Jesus is gone again.
It is in this unique time that I think we should remember that the resurrection was not initially a joyful occasion of the disciples. It was traumatizing. Not only did the disciples lose Jesus, but they now also could not perform the traditional rites of embalming. They could not give him the respect they wanted to. They lost their friend a second time.
Even the different accounts of the resurrection and later appearances are an indicator of the grief they were still processing. When and where Jesus appeared was something each person had to process. Each person saw something of different importance.
I think I feel like Peter. I think many of us feel like Peter. I am wondering what has happened. I am wondering what will happen. Just like Peter, I am surrounded by resurrection and I cannot feel the power of it. I am standing at the tomb looking in and I cannot see anything but loss.
This isn’t to say that Easter shouldn’t be joyous. We still should know that Christ defeated death, and whatever death comes, we know that we shouldn’t fear it. But this Easter, maybe it is time to embrace what the resurrection was for those experiencing for the first time. It may be a time to lament. It may be a time to process our grief.
I’m sure that this week we may lose friends. Our finances will be strained. We will continue to be locked in our homes. It may get rough. And that’s exactly what the first Easter was like. The first disciples lost friends – probably the closest friends they would ever have. They were so strained that they were in hiding. They were locked up in their homes, afraid of what may happen. Things were rough, and yet victory had been won. Jesus had resurrected.
It may be time to think about what is happening around us - resurrection.