The Gospel for Easter Sunday tells us that after Mary Magdalen shared the news of the empty tomb with Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John ran to investigate. When John saw that Jesus was no longer there, we are told, “He saw and believed.”
Many others would have seen the same evidence John saw — a few scattered burial cloths — and come to a different conclusion. They would have assumed that Jesus’ body had been taken. Even the steadfast Mary Magdalen thought that at first. So what made John see it differently?
Perhaps John didn’t need to experience Easter in order to believe in it. Perhaps he had Easter already within him.
As I write this, I need a bit of Easter within me as well. It’s the first week of Lent in what I hope are the final days of a long, dreary winter. It’s chilly and gray outside, and the remains of the umpteenth snowfall of the season lie in sooty islands at the edges of the Unbound parking lot. My feet have been cold since November.
Still, my task is to write about Easter, so I project myself 40 days into the future. I imagine a beautiful, sustained Easter season, beginning with that sunshiny, April Sunday morning. The birds are singing and there’s a gentle breeze as I walk up to church with my wife and son. Kristi is wearing a new spring dress (she’s a redhead and looks great in blues and yellows) and Ben is sporting a dress shirt and slacks over one of his few pairs of non-basketball shoes. And me? I’m in the suit I bought for my mother’s funeral, but with a colorful new necktie that says rejoicing, not mourning.
I imagine these things as I write because, at this moment, imagination is all I have. But I know the Easter season is coming. I know because I too have Easter within me and it’s that for which I’m most thankful. It has sustained me through many false starts and human misadventures.
I also know there’s no Easter season without Lent, no resurrection without the cross, no shortcut to alleluia. Unbound families know it too. It’s the Easter within them, nurtured by the support and encouragement of caring sponsors, that sustains them through their struggles on the path to a better life. They never take that internal Easter season for granted, nor do we.
Wherever you are right now, I hope you don’t have to imagine a bright and beautiful Easter season. I hope you can embrace these 50 days in all their glory. And I hope your feet are warm. Happy Easter season.
Jesus, Lord of life, awaken our alleluia! Infuse us with warmth and dapple us with the colors of new life. Bring us to your empty tomb and dare us, like John, to believe and be joyful. We will, Lord, we will. For we have known you, Divine Son and compassionate brother who, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, always was, is now and will forever be. Amen.
Copyright 2019 Larry Livingston for Unbound