I confess: I got up yesterday morning—Easter Sunday—not feeling very Easter-ish. Which, by my definition, meant not feeling much joy. Which meant in turn that I felt guilty and ashamed of myself. There I was, someone who claims that my deepest longing is to know and love Jesus as intimately as I can, and on the morning we gathered to celebrate that He’s alive and present and knowable, I was struggling to feel anything more holy than self-pity. Yuck.
I gave Him myself anyway, right in the middle of the mess, told Him again I’m all His—even the messy, ugly bits that I’d rather hide. (Okay, I confess: I tried to fix myself first. It didn’t work. THEN I gave myself to Him again.)
And He met me.
First in Mark, where the earliest copies of the gospel end with the women’s response to the angel’s shocking news that Jesus is alive and they’re to go and tell his other disciples:
“Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” (Mark 16:8)
Then in Luke and John, where the women tell but the others don’t believe, where Peter goes to see and leaves the empty tomb puzzled, where the travelers to Emmaeus hear the news but walk along still sad and disappointed, unbelieving. Thomas doubts and Mary arrives at the tomb in the dark, weeping and wondering.
Easter always starts in the dark.
And Jesus, who really is alive, meets them there, in the dark and the mess, in the fear and the tears and the unbelief, letting them touch him and feed him, calling Mary by name and guiding Thomas’ fingers to the holes in his own palms and side. He speaks to the travellers through Scripture and bread broken and to the disciples through fish filling long-empty nets and a meal together around a campfire.
And He meets me in meals alone with Him and I learn again that though it might take a while, the life that fills the risen Jesus is big enough to meet me where I’m at and make it beautiful, holy space just because He is there, loving me in it.
I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that.
If I don’t wait for Him in the dark I won’t find Him making it light.
I’m so glad Easter isn’t just one day, glad that the church calendar stretches out the Easter season to seven weeks of space to come with the questions and the doubts and the fears and let the living Jesus meet me in just the way He knows I need to be met. Even more glad that the arms of the risen Jesus extend this welcome to a lifetime of promised patient love.