We are still in the season of Easter – just! Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia!
That call and response is the traditional Easter greeting beginning at the Easter Day service. In my sending church we used to repeat it a few times, with each repetition getting either louder or more enthusiastic, or both! It sometimes takes us a while to warm up to good news, to excellent news, to amazing news. We can’t always quite believe it.
Sometimes when someone has been ill for a long time and then they begin to make really good progress, it can take some time to begin to take it in. People won’t always respond with joy at such good news, because their emotions have been in a very different place for many weeks or months. It may take a couple of weeks before they look like they’ve perked up – particularly if they haven’t been ill themselves, they’ve been watching and caring for someone else. I think that this might be how many people are feeling right now at this stage of the pandemic, lockdown and all that goes with it.
This certainly seemed to be the case for the early disciples from the women who first encountered the risen Jesus to the disciples gathered in hiding in the upper room. They hadn’t been living with illness for a long time; they had experienced what we might call a bit of a roller coaster – emotions up and down, all over the place and on Good Friday when Jesus died – devastation and loss. Maybe they felt that they were just beginning to understand who he really was, when it was all over. Then of course, they had to adjust to the fact that he was still alive – but not as they had known him. He was transformed; his earthly body had changed, quite how we don’t know, just that it was different and that this new life would be eternal.
We too might be experiencing something of this disorientation – after months and months of various lockdown regulations, so much illness, death and hardship suffered by so many. We might be feeling less than excited by the advent of protection through the various vaccines; it might not be quite hitting home. Maybe you feel wary of going outside and shopping again and meeting folks again too. Let me say, it isn’t a race, take your time whether that is quick or slowly or very slowly. It is good news and we will continue and joy will come back into our lives if it has been missing.
Today Jesus continues to call us to eternal life – he is in the business of transformation and that process goes on throughout our lives. As we walk with Jesus day by day something of his likeness begins to take hold on us and some things that are quite unlike Jesus get chipped away. We can’t always see it happening but if we look back on our lives we can see the changes and the way we have been shaped gradually and carefully, or maybe sometimes a big chip drops off leaving us unsteady for a time before we adjust and rebalance. This might be where you are at right now.
The importance of the resurrection to us is reflected in the length of the Easter season which we celebrate until Pentecost which comes this year on 23rd May, we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Jesus who aids our transformation. The resurrection for us Christians is at the very centre of our faith. As the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15.17 ‘If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.’ Everything we believe and trust in hinges on the resurrection and its good news.
Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia!
Revd Gerri Tetzlaff