They fled with terror and amazement.
They fell down and worshiped him.
They said nothing to no one
Mary stood there and wept.
These are paraphrases of the 4 initial responses to the empty tomb--one from each of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. As you look over the responses it is obvious that the first Resurrection was not the instantaneous party that it is in these days. There was hesitancy, uncertainty, confusion, and terror. Oh, and lots of running.
It seems to me that we are having similar responses to the good news of vaccinations and a hopeful end to this pandemic. Some of us are running as fast as we can to hug our loved ones. Some of us are cautiously tiptoeing back into the world, some of us are still waiting to get a vaccine, and some of us are unsure if this is real.
In our culture of instant gratification---superfast delivery, answers at our fingertips, and products designed to meet our every need--we can forget that not everything is instant. The Resurrection morning of so long ago left those who loved Jesus with more questions than answers. And, it took numerous appearances of the Crucified Christ for it to begin to sink in just what the ramifications were of that empty tomb. It took decades for the gospels to be written, years for Paul’s witness and teachings to take root and become the mass movement that we call Christianity. Resurrection takes time. True transformation usually requires a certain amount of patience and discipline.
Likewise, as a faith community, while we may be eager to hug one another, sing loudly together inside, and linger over coffee while catching up on the past year of one another’s lives, We know that we must take the “slow emergence route”. Over the next weeks and months we will continue to offer hybrid community options, gathering outdoors when safe, worshiping on the lawn regularly, and providing space for fellowship opportunities that welcome all. We long for normalcy in human interactions, but even more so, we long for a safe and welcoming church that honors all of the reactions to this pandemic.
I wish we were celebrating with huge fanfare this Easter…but I take heart that perhaps this Easter is more like the first Easter than any I have been part of. No matter what, we can shout “He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed”…and trust that God is weaving, working and bringing us together through the wonder of screens, social distancing, serving our neighbors, and phone calls.