on the day before Easter. . .
He is risen. . .
It is the Easter chorus of my childhood. Spoken as a greeting of confidence from one person to the other. Met with the automatic response, “he is risen indeed. . .”
Three words that spoke of renewed hope, accomplished redemption. Death defeated. An announcement of joy. That those waiting, with crushed confidence, living in the weight of misunderstanding and fragmented hearts can take a deep breath of new beginning and hope restored.
We missed Easter this year by some misadventure in planning. Easter is this Sunday in Greece, but last week in Kenya. We left Greece Saturday, and as the sun rose on Easter in Greece we landed in Nairobi.
I find it ironic, in a year where I long so much for the constant reassurance of the resurrection, that we are missing this marker in time. . .instead, we stood in an interminable Saturday, waiting for Easter.
When Jesus died, the people who loved him experienced that Saturday in interminable agony. Maybe some of them understood his three day reference, but most of them were living in the crushing reality of dashed hopes. They hid, thinking of this person who had Seen them, who had spoken truth that flipped the world on its head, who had spoken of first last and loved in unexpected acts of service had been falsely accused and brutally murdered.
Truth upended. Hope gone. Mob justice crushed goodness.
Evil on display – stunningly victorious.
Jesus’s friends waited in fear, in uncertain quietness, wondering how they could go from feeling like they were on the edge of something brilliant to darkness that seemed deeper in contrast to the light it replaced.
Some days, the place I stand seems like Easter Saturday. The brokenness of injustice, relentless poverty, the worry that bias I grew up with cripples my ability love well – these culminate in a fear that despite my best efforts, what I offer will never, ever be enough.
I should live in the unbelievable revelation of Sunday morning. The greatest plot twist, the inexplicable life from horrible death. That what I offer isn’t me, it’s Him – alive and full of love.
But instead of responding in trust, I hide in Saturday and look around for the next crisis. Instead of living in the dawning light, I look for the darkness. Instead of trusting in provision, I look at the need. Instead of believing the good, I worry about unseen layers. His purpose is playing out like spectacular stripes of light illuminate the morning sky and my celebration is laced with cynicism.
The girls have been playing a song called Drops in the Ocean on repeat this week. . .somehow, I had never heard it, and I almost started crying at the chorus where it says, “I am for you, not against you.” I have other similar verses on repeat but had stopped hearing them – “if God is for us, who can be against us”. . .and that “all things work together for the good. . .” but I had started hearing them with the uncertainty of Saturday. Nothing else can be against me – but can He? is He against me?
And in this week of the never coming Easter, I thought about the days leading up to such a paradox of pain and goodness. Good Friday was the place where God’s hatred of injustice, of brokenness, of pain collided with his deep, perfect, and abiding love for the people in the middle of it of the mess. In sacrifice, He was able to do what I fail to do every day and where he proved, He is for us, not ever against us.
Saturday was the place we were invited to live in faith without the apparition of the resurrection. And Sunday, to walk in the revelation of the reality that the work is finished, that my weak effort can be perfect in His powerful love. That He is beside me in my struggle. That His love breaks through in unfathomable pain.
That we no longer live in the eve of Easter, because He is risen.
He is risen indeed.