The Liturgical Calendar dwells much longer in the story of Easter, and carries on going over what happened after the Resurrection. Looking at the conversations and appearances of Christ to the women who followed Him, and to the disciples. Paying attention to His Resurrection. To the fear, shock and amazement reverberating through His followers and to those who hated Him. Listening with care to the words He spoke before His ascension.
All these things matter, because the Way is unfolding and the Words and actions of Christ, are vital. His Words are life and breath; they are help and encouragement; strength and fortitude. With these Words a worldwide movement begins that carries on to this day.
In the Protestant church of which I have been a part of since my birth, we celebrate Easter and we emphasize the death and Resurrection of Christ. The Protestant church, by in large, uses this time of the year as a push towards evangelism. We want others to know The Good News. We want them to know Jesus, walk with Him, talk with Him, be filled and empowered by His Spirit.
Are we missing out?
Perhaps we miss out, because we are too quick to let Easter go by and it becomes rote to us. Special, yes, but over time we become deaf to the glorious music and mystery of Easter. The music that thrills us with its rhythm, the beauty bringing a symphony of wonder and hope. We are so accustomed to the story; we tune out the impact that focusing on Easter for more than a weekend would awaken. The possibility of a quickening in our spirits dissipates.
Inside the story
What if we slowed down, took our time and put ourselves inside the story, could it become more real to us? Inside the story, we feel the intensity of confusion and anger, the deep crushing grief as we watch the Savior, arrested, beaten, mocked. We see Him walk the Via Delarosa, He stumbles and falls, climbs the hill called Golgotha. There on the Cross – He thirsts, is in torturous pain, feels abandoned by His Father. They crucify him, the world quakes, the veil is torn in two. And we are there, our breath coming in great gasping sobs. We do not understand the victory of the Cross or what has been accomplished.
Our world quakes too, all that we have believed and put our hope in, dies. He dies. We too are torn, ripped in half. How can it be? Bewilderment overwhelms us, we also feel the anguish of the abandoned. The Living Water that was to quench our thirst, the well of our dreams, gone dry. The pain of disappointment is catastrophic. It smothers us in doubt. How to move forward, what to do next?
He is alive
Then after three days, the Resurrection. As it all unfolds, it draws us into the terror and astonishment. Jesus, He is alive! We can hope again, breathe again. We feel His tenderness as He speaks our name; our hearts burn as He opens up the Scriptures as He walks the road with us. Blinded, then seeing Him – it is Jesus! Some of us doubt, but touching Him, believe. He appears, then disappears. We spend time with Jesus again and again.
Here is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is incredulity, puzzlement, awe. Christ has Risen, He has risen from the dead.
We look back now to these ancient followers, they are the eyewitnesses. They have seen it, felt it, heard it. The ones who have seen Jesus, alive and well, marked beyond any doubt. There are the wounds, in His side, His hands, His feet. There is an urgency now to get the message out, to spread it first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles; and so the circle grows, ever-widening in its impact and influence.
And here we are, more than 2000 years later. What will we do with this story?
We have lived our lives knowing it; the world has timed its clock by His life and death. We live in the brokenness of this world. If we have any experience at all, we have wept and suffered and cried out in agony. There have been doubts and fears, we have felt desperate, alone. Have been in pain; seen our dreams die. Known mind-numbing disappointment and grief.
But Easter is not over, its results are unending. Death could not conquer Him; we know the victory that He won that terrible day. Once, for all, it is Finished.
And, we are forgiven, accepted, beloved, chosen and redeemed.
In our heartbreak, and in the darkness of despair, while we are anxious and afraid; when death comes unexpected, when relationships crumble: always, He is with us. He is the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with our griefs. He weeps for and with us. The story isn’t over.
Nothing can separate us
He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. We walk now in the in-between, and sometimes it is horrible. Sometimes, it is bloody awful. So, He shed His blood for us; so no demons of hell, no monsters on earth, no devastating circumstance; nothing, no, nothing, can ever separate us from His love. He carries us, enfolds and upholds us.
Never alone, never forsaken, His promise to be with us is immutable, incapable of changing. So, we cling to Him and to His Words to us.
Because, Easter never really ends.
Christ is Risen, Alleluia.