The strangest of times. As I write, we are bombarded by statistics about Coronavirus. We are ‘in lockdown.’ Many of us try to stay safe at home; others have to work, often in desperate situations. Our prime minister is in intensive care. We are in Holy Week, a Holy Week unlike any other. And Sunday is Easter Day.
Forgive me, but it’s hard to shout out with joy, given the current situation. This all feels like a very, very long Holy Saturday, full of grief and turmoil, full of darkness. We don’t know when all this will end. But end it will, and how we shall celebrate!
The disciples must have felt some of these feelings all those years ago. Our Gospel reading for today (John 20:1- 18) tells of Mary going to the tomb. She discovers that the stone has been rolled away and runs to tell Peter and the other disciple “who Jesus loved.” They approach the tomb. Peter looks inside and yes, the tomb is empty, the burial wrappings are left inside the tomb. We are told that the disciple “saw and believed.” What did they believe? That the grave was empty? That the body was stolen? Or did they believe something else? Whatever they thought, they returned home. We do not hear that they rejoiced or celebrated, as they went home – no joyful shouts. Did the empty tomb make any difference to them? For of course, it makes all the difference. Mary Magdalene realised this when, weeping, she stayed by the tomb. She recognised the gardener outside the tomb. She only recognised him when he called her name.
And Easter Day will happen, Jesus will again call to each one of us, and despite our circumstances nothing will separate us from God’s love. Chris Thorpe in his book Apprentices and Eyewitnesses writes, “today…we come to celebrate the triumph of love over hate, the triumph of good over evil. For today the power of the cross is broken, the power of fear and despair is defeated. Because of today, we can dare to believe. Jesus, who was killed on the cross, is risen. Jesus, who was lain in a tomb, is alive.”
Over the last few days I’ve heard of so many positive things. Neighbours looking out for one another. People offering to help others. Appreciation for the work undertaken by key workers. And of course we’ve heard of very sad stories too. Stories that tug at my heart and make me cry.
What keeps me going is the knowledge that God walks alongside us. All this will end. We can, and will, celebrate Easter once we are back in church. Jesus’s death and crucifixion is not the end of the story. Love breaks through. Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! With my love and prayers, Anne
— Janet Taylor
Wed, 8 Apr 2020