By Pastor Jeff Fox-Kline
He is risen!
I’m not going to break new ground here by saying that this Easter season evokes feelings of resurrection in so many ways. Easter always happening in Spring gives a sense of resurrection no matter what, but the fact that it’s so warm and beautiful outside gives me hope and optimism. The successful distribution of vaccines is a source of promise. And, of course, being physically at the church with the worshiping body shows me what resurrection may look like.
I’m strengthened by these things, strengthened in my soul much in the same way that sharing Communion through this whole pandemic has provided me with strength. But I’m reminded that we are people who celebrate God’s kingdom in the present, and God’s kingdom to come. We are people who celebrate the resurrection and inauguration of God’s kingdom, while also knowing that things are not “on earth as it is in heaven."
Yesterday I was sad. I was sad because I was thinking about how amazing Sunday was, and how we’re not able to do this all the time yet. I want so badly for things to be all the way better. I want to hug friends and family I haven’t seen in a year. It feels so close. And in some ways, it’s already here. The vaccines mean that I’m able to do more than I have over the past year. But not everything. And it’s that "not yet" that makes me sad.
I wonder if the disciples felt that way. Joy at the resurrection, but sadness that the king didn’t immediately usher in a new era on earth. I wonder how it felt to cower in hiding along with the risen king. How might it have felt to the disciples to have seen the promise of the kingdom of God only to be tortured and persecuted?
The joy and sadness must continue to go hand in hand, and vice versa. The promise of the vaccine only being such a joy because of the trauma of the past year. The joy of the resurrection only being possible because of the trauma of the crucifixion. As we continue down the path we can take strength from the disciples, who were with Jesus at his rising, and who still suffered patiently, awaiting the kingdom while celebrating the present kingdom.
Right now, we hold these things in tension, because we have the promise of tomorrow to give us strength for today. We look in hope to the future because we have the future promised to us, both here on earth and forever. But we also hold the reality of sadness at the crucifixion; of sadness at the pain that lingers from this past year, and the difficulties of this liminal time.
Resurrection is a sign of God’s goodness to us, and a sign of God’s promise to the future. It makes the current day better because we know now how the story ends. But we still have to wait, and that’s hard. It’s ok if things are hard for you right now. I have hope they won’t always be.