We have done some strange things week, but this is the strangest. We’ve willingly come into darkness. We’ve attempted in our own ways to do this all week. To face head-on all that Jesus was willing to do for us. So this has meant that we have come into the night, the time when we are at our most vulnerable, at our lowest ebb. We remember that the resurrection took place while it was dark, before the sun had risen. In order to accept our true security in the Gospel we allow ourselves to face the dark and know that it is not final.
We tend to associate Easter and Resurrection with light and brightness, and it is partly why our architect re-imagined the interior of this bombed-out shell after the war. But all the Gospel writers agree that it occurred while it was still dark.
Historically those preparing for baptism would have been spending the whole of this night in prayer and fasting before their first communion as dawn broke and the day became Easter Day. They would have entered their church in darkness, perhaps secretly, and they would have listened to the story of their faith in Holy Scripture. They would repent of their sins, they would renounce evil, they would have been stripped and baptised and as dawn broke they would have been fed for the first time with the body and blood of Jesus. They would know that, however long the night had been, daylight was coming for them.
We are doing something similar, we are celebrating Christ’s ability to draw us through darkness into light. We are sharing not just in the darkness of those first Christians, but in the darkness of the world. We are showing solidarity with those for whom the night is still far from over, Good Friday is still going on, and maybe it is for you.
Matthew’s account of the resurrection is as wonderful and confusing as the rest of them. The woman went, not to find Jesus, but to look at the grave. The earthquake, the revelation by angels is typical of Matthew. The women were filled with joy and fear, and no wonder. Each of the accounts leaves us bewildered and confused. What actually happened? Were they confident or fearful? The truth was, and is, a complete mixture. He was dead and was alive. Of course they were confused.
There is no easy. Superficial joy about Easter. We can’t easily erase the horrors of Good Friday.
Despite all that they had seen of Jesus in his earthly life they all had something unresolved, unfinished, incomplete. We have similar feelings when we look at our world. We see some wonderful things, but we see a lot else besides. Their experience of seeing Jesus enabled them to see that one day every human encounter/loss/life will be fulfilled, but in another life and in another world. Seeing Jesus enabled them to see that one day, everything would be plain, and would be perfect. And they began to see that here and now they could be a reflection of the glories of that other world and that other life. Relationships/Grief/loss/disaster we still find glimpses of a deeper purer world in which we, with God, will have the last laugh.