Holidays can be hard for many of us. Even Easter can be a bit of a challenge if our expectations aren’t fulfilled. Greeting cards and romantic movies have made us believe that all things should be resolved on holidays. Families should come together in forgiveness and love with all the troubles of previous days and years forgotten. Those who have been unwell should suddenly find wellness and fully participate in holiday festivities. Buying into these myths can leave us disappointed and sad.
Here we are on the day after Easter. The holiday might have been just a day for you, or all the planned observances and celebrations could have felt flat or forced, or maybe everything went well and now it’s time to pick up the pieces of everyday life and move forward. Whether we are disappointed in the day, feeling like we missed something, or sad that everyone has gone home and we are alone again, or something else, there is still some possibility for the real joy of Easter.
Like Christmas, Easter is a season, not just a day. Unlike Christmas’s 12 days, Easter has a 50-day season. We have 50 days to find more meaning than left-over ham and jelly beans. In Mark’s Gospel the story ends with the women who had gone to anoint Jesus running away from the empty tomb. Mark makes a point of telling us that they told no one anything about what they saw because they were both terrified and amazed.
We know they eventually told people what they had seen and heard because the story continues to be told. I think it’s important for us to remember all the emotions of that first Easter morning. The women went to the tomb to anoint their beloved friend and teacher and they were filled with grief as they did so. Then confusion and anger set in when the tomb was empty. This was followed by amazement and terror as an angel told them that Jesus had risen. Later, they felt the joy of believing that Jesus lives again.
We are capable of many emotions all at once. Once we grasp the joy of believing that Jesus lives again, that Jesus invites us to move from death to life, from despair to hope, from fear to love, from brokenness to wholeness, nothing can take that away. The joy of trusting God’s love for us takes up residence deep within us and does not leave. Joy abides through waves of grief, through confusion and anger, through amazement and terror, through everything…
It doesn’t matter if you are disappointed or feeling sad after your Easter celebrations. We are an Easter People. Resurrection, the promise of new life, is always before us. We can begin again and again and again… as often as we need to, before and after we encounter the power of the Risen Christ. Even when we trust in God’s love for us, trust that God sees us as whole and holy, life won’t be perfect. However, Easter is an eternal promise of new life, new beginnings.
Mark ended his version of the Resurrection with the story untold. May your life and my life, be the continuation of that story, a story of love and promise and joy that abides deep within us all.
Christ is risen!
Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe
Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is an author, and the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN. You can find links to her blog, video series, and books at Beachtheology.com