Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb. . .
The word “resurrection” means to rise from the dead, or to breathe new life into something that has died. For Christians, it’s the word our sacred texts use to describe what happened to Jesus of Nazarath after he was executed on a cross. It’s the word to describe what awaits us after we breathe our last. And it’s the word to describe how God is at work in our lives, and in this world, as we live.
The Christian experience of resurrection is that of new life rising from the embers of something else in us that has died. It’s not the same as resuscitation, because resurrection doesn’t take us back to what we’ve lost. It propels us forward. Resurrection doesn’t erase our grief nor fully heal our wounds. There will always be scars and memories of our loss. What God gives us, through the power of resurrection, is a new life.
What’s more, Jesus is not simply someone we read about in our Bibles. Through the power of resurrection, He is the Risen Christ, forever our companion, guide, teacher, savior, and friend–the living presence of God with and for us. And nothing that happens to us can separate us from Christ and His love.
The process of resurrection begins before we’re aware that it’s happening. Before we feel anything at all, in the numbness of grief, we find ourselves moving, physically or spiritually, toward a new horizon. Nothing seems different at first.
That’s what it was like for Jesus’ first disciples, you know. Scripture tells us that early in the morning, while it was still dark Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away. While it was still dark, before she even knew she could hope again, she found herself walking, without realizing it, toward a new future. On the way, she meets Jesus himself. He, too, was moving on. “Don’t cling to me, Mary,” he said to her in the garden. “Don’t look back, now. Look ahead. Keep going toward the horizon. I’ll meet you there.”
The Christian faith is, at its foundation, one of hope, because even in the midst of all that is wrong with us, and wrong with our world, God not only comes to us in Jesus; he makes a new way for us through all the sorrow and death we experience and inflict on one another. Jesus inspires us to keep walking toward new life. And when we do, we realize that we’re not walking alone. The One who lived and died and rose for us is with us, beside us and up ahead.
So keep walking toward the horizon. It may be still dark, but there is light up ahead. God hasn’t given up on you; God hasn’t given up on us. Let’s not give up, either. In the words of American poet Gwendolyn Brooks, “Even if the naysayers of this world are not ready for the day, it cannot always be night.” And it won’t be. When it’s still dark, as followers of Jesus, we keep walking toward the dawn.
We invite you to watch this playlist of short videos from the bishop and our friends and colleagues across the Diocese of Washington who have experienced the presence of God–glimmers of light and hope and signs of the Holy Spirit–in our midst during this time of pandemic.