Tuesday, April 03, 2018

On the First day of the week

I still remember how cold and grey it was that morning. Of course, every morning is grey if you get up before the sun, but this grey was different, because I did not really believe that the sun would ever shine again. They had crucified the Light of the world, and the noonday had turned to darkness while they did – a truly terrifying event. What was the point of sunlight, what was the point of anything, without him?

We barely spoke as we walked through the early morning silence of the city. What was there left to say when we had shed more tears than a human body could surely hold? What was there left to say when our hearts had turned to stone inside us, and we had to drag the miserable weight of them with us wherever we went? We did wonder about the stone across the mouth of the tomb – we were none of us strong enough to deal with that – but surely the soldiers guarding the tomb would help us? Even Romans would regard the proper attentions of women to a dead body as a pious duty.

When we reached the garden it was oddly quiet, and there was no sign of the soldiers. But we were walking like people trapped in a terrible dream, our senses muted, our hearts turned inward. I am not sure which of us, as we approached, first noticed that the stone, that heavy, heart-rending lump of lifeless rock, had been rolled away from the entrance of the tomb. We looked at each other in confusion, this was not what we were expecting, and we weren’t sure what it meant. But we had come to do a job, love’s last tender, unbearable ministry, so, drawing in our breath, we passed that portal and found … nothing! He wasn’t there!

It was as if something broke inside us. Were we to be denied even this? Had they planned some further degradation for his broken, tortured body? But even as we were looking at each other in baffled despair, inside that dim cave, there was a light shining beside us like the fullness of the sun, too bright for our eyes to focus on, and there were two men standing in our midst. We couldn’t at them steadily to discern them feature by feature – the light was too strong. They were clearly not human, they were the very angels of God. In terror we bowed down to them, but their purpose was not intimidation.

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” they asked, and as they went on to explain that the impossible had happened and Jesus was alive again, our souls turned inside out and our world turned right way up.

We had gone to the tomb that morning to make an ending, to weep for our loss and find some consolation in the midst of paralysing grief, But this was not the end, but the beginning, a new beginning for a new creation. We did not fully understand where this would take us, or what it meant for the salvation of the world, but we knew what mattered most: Jesus had overcome death and was alive for evermore.

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