Scripture: John 20:1-18
What a story! When you hear this story, what words would you use to describe it? I immediately think “intense, sad, scary, confusing, and messy.”
Easter, that first Easter, was messy.
Judas betrays Jesus and muddies the loyalty between Lord and disciple.
The Roman soldiers beat Jesus and create a scene with blood and dirt and sweat.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, cries for her son and adds tears to the mixture.
While on the cross, a thief pleads to Jesus and proposes a question of salvation for centuries to come.
At Jesus’s death, the earth trembles.
For three days, the disciples think their Lord is forever gone and they live in a state of confusion.
Mary Magdalene finds her Lord missing and she is deeply troubled.
The angels try consoling her. Jesus himself tries consoling her, but his identity is masked at first.
Once his identity is revealed, Mary Magdalene wants to keep him with her always and then faces disappointment as she is told she must let him go so that he can ascend to the Creator.
Those who believed in the teachings of Jesus weigh retribution if they declare their loyalty to him.
Jesus is raised from the dead and we are given hope in the resurrection of God’s power in this world.
The first Easter was messy.
Easter 2020 is messy.
Many of us are in cars, where we can only wave to friends and we’re not really sure if people have on sweatpants or khakis, despite button up shirts! Some are participating in worship from home. Kids are anxious to get back to playdates and students to sports practices or clubs. Offices are trying to run business as usual from home work stations. Families are having to endure grief from miles and miles apart. All of us would like to pass by another in the grocery store and not do a quick calculation of 6 feet.
Upon reflection, this Easter can remind us so much of that first Easter….and, therefore, remind us of hope that comes in the living word of Jesus Christ.
Similarly today as in the times of the first Easter, we are mainly hunkered down in our homes. Then, for the first Christ-followers it was out of fear of retribution for declaring their loyalty. Today, it is out of fear of spreading the coronavirus.
Similarly...many households are concerned about finances and health. In our wider community and government, injustices and inequalities are being shown for the messiness that they hold within them. There is no option these days for sweeping under the rug the way that social systems favor one group over another.
This Easter looks messy compared to our “normal” Easter, and perhaps that is a good thing. I believe this Easter teaches us in a beautiful way to reflect upon the core message of that first Easter - hope for resurrection amidst immense hardship.
The traditions of bunnies and peeps and eggs is good to remind us of new life, particularly seeing the flowers and trees bloom with life during this time. More importantly, the tradition of remembering Jesus’ teachings for caring for the poor, the marginalized, the hurting - that tradition is what I believe Easter 2020 beautifully highlights for us because that is what this world needs.
The Easter story has in it blood, sweat, tears, pleads of mercy, confusion, sorrow, anger, and then…. immense joy and hope. Our lives may have in it blood, sweat, tears, pleads of mercy, confusion, sorrow, anger, and then, hopefully, immense joy and hope.
Joan D. Chittister, connects this Easter hope to our daily hope by saying...
“We trust in the future we cannot see and do only know because we have celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus year after year. In His life we rest our own."
Because of the Easter story, we have in our faith and in our community a message of hope to hold onto. Not a hope that only says “you’ll be at peace when you die,” but a hope that says “all people are worthy, all people are loved, all people are valued.”
As the art that is hanging in our sanctuary gives us inspiration in many ways, the resurrection of Jesus’ teachings gives us inspiration and hope.
No matter what mess you feel right now - whether it is in creating a piece of art or it is in simply living life through these times - know that the resurrection story is messy, too. And it is a beautiful piece of art. Let us be reminded of the hope that comes in the living word of Jesus Christ.
The Lord has risen! Let the people say, AMEN and sing Hallelujah!