The Life-giving Emptiness of this Easter
He is risen! He is risen indeed! Happy Easter.
This Easter is different. On this day of resurrection and life, there is much to lament as we see and hear the daily numbers relating to coronavirus deaths. These numbers are real people. Already funerals are coming in for people who have died due to coronavirus. Today is also a time to be brutality honest with God and with each other as we walk through this dark valley.
But we need not lament that on this Easter Day we will not be gathering together physically as we usually do. Today we have the opportunity to turn the day into blessing by hearing the Easter story in a way that is most biblical. Jesus’ resurrection did not begin with people gathering together singing and rejoicing. It began with an empty tomb and a fearful Mary. This is the Easter to reflect on such emptiness and fear. This is the Easter to let our churches remain empty, not in despair but as witness to lives being saved because we do not gather.
As we think of our empty churches, as we journey to the empty tomb, we are reminded that emptiness is life-giving. The divine kiss of life had taken place. The tomb was emptied of death. We may be abandoning our holy gathering places; we are not abandoning the Gospel. We are instead witnessing to what the white-robed messenger announced at the empty tomb, ‘He is not here.’
Where is then, the risen Jesus? John’s Gospel informs us that the resurrected Jesus was mistaken for the gardener. That was the place where Mary was, in the garden. The risen Jesus is in the place where you are right now. As with Mary, he speaks to you today, he calls your name on this Easter Day. Jesus made his first public appearance to the disciples in their social isolation as they huddled in fear in the locked room. To be sure, their isolation was for a different reason than ours. But no matter. The risen Jesus will find us in our places of isolation this Easter Day and every day. He has done it before. He will continue to do it.
As we gather in our homes this Easter hear Jesus call your name. Hear him say ‘Peace be with you.’
He is risen. Alleluia!