Rude Awakening

It’s Easter morning – Hallelujah.

What a strange Easter morning it is though, stuck as we are in the middle of the Covid-19 lockdown. Much much more to be said about all this, about church, about community – but the inspiration for this post was when I was awoken at about 4.30 this morning.

You see, the more Easters I have, the more I feel that we jump the gun a bit. It took the first disciples a further 50 days before the joy and release of the resurrection took hold. Immediately after Easter, they continued to be in “isolation” – a frightened community hiding behind locked doors, unable to meet in public or understand what was going on, and most of all what part God was playing in it all. Our most reliable sources for Mark’s gospel end at verse 8 of chapter 16. “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.”

In the early hours of this morning, an emergency vehicle siren sounded out over Harrogate. It may have been more than one – it was hard to tell – but it was very eerie, and unusual. As I lay in bed, in semi-darkness, listening, it struck me as being very close to that first Easter Sunday. The tomb was empty. It’s like going to put flowers on a grave, and finding it has been dug up and there’s just a hole. And surely word would have got back to the authorities pretty quickly about the empty tomb, and I’m sure they moved in.

My point is not to diminish just how extraordinary Easter Sunday was and is, and that it is a time of great joy of celebration. Of course it is.

But it is also an event within a much wider story, that ranges at the very least from Good Friday to Pentecost. To be unsettled, scared, in isolation, hopeful but not really sure what it’s all going, or where and when it will end is part and parcel of the Easter story.

To know that something extraordinary is going on, and God is on the move, yet to also have doubts and fears is the walk of faith. As followers of Jesus, we live in the “now” and the “not yet”. With the joy and certain hope of the resurrection, while at the same time living in the occupied (but defeated) territory of sin and death.

So as we continue in lockdown, under the shadow of covid-19, we also know this is not the last word. Easter Sunday of all days gives us hope for the future.

May you all know God’s blessing this day, whether in houses full of joy (and chocolate) or full of tears. May you know the hope of the resurrection, even in the midst of confusion, fear, boredom and isolation.

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