This week I’ve been trying to read and think about the Holy Week stories from the perspective of the disciples. On Sunday the disciples are once again, caught up short. Even though Jesus told them that he would be raised, it must have seemed impossible to them.
On Good Friday their world changed. The unthinkable happened. And after a day of trying to adjust to a new reality, trying to accept Jesus’ death- on the next day the unimaginable happens again and just like that the world shifts.
The women disciples find an empty tomb. What did they think? How did they respond?
Look at the language used. In Mark, they are alarmed and flee in “terror and amazement”. “…they were afraid.”
In Matthew the soldiers guarding the tomb are afraid “and become like dead men.” The women leave the tomb with “fear and joy’.
In Luke the male disciples are “perplexed” and do not believe the women disciples. “But these words seems to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”
In John’s gospel Mary weeps outside the tomb.
Not, perhaps, the reaction we would expect over the good news of the resurrection.
And yet there is an honesty and a ring of truth about these responses. Do we think we would have reacted any differently?
In “normal” years Easter is a grand celebration, as it should be. But Easter was different this year. Churches were empty. People gathered in small, scattered groups. I looked out my window at a quiet street and wondered, where is everyone? Is anyone else keeping Easter? It has been an odd Easter. But I felt a sort of kinship with the first disciples- it was a strange and somewhat unsettling day.
Our world is shifting and changing. Our pretense that we have some control over our future is frayed, maybe even torn apart. Things feel tenuous and uncertain. Is there something solid we can stand on? Is there anything reliable to hold on to?
The old words of the Easter liturgy, normally loudly pronounced in packed churches, are this year spoken at home. Spoken with a few people or perhaps just spoken to yourself. Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed.
This year they are not so much words of triumph and proclamation. This year they seem more like words of assurance. Fear not. Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed.
Here is a bit of solid ground to stand on. Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed.
Here is something to hold on to. Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed.