Here we are, moving through our deep Christian stories from Holy Week, to Good Friday to Easter. From stories of abandonment, betrayal, forgiveness and love, to Good Friday violence and despair, to Easter hope and new life.
All of these stories we know so well are stories of God in Jesus that resonate with our own life stories: both the best in us and the worst in us.
In this period, we hear stories of Jesus’s friends falling asleep when he needed them, denying, abandoning and betraying him and each other. We hear stories of the destructive power of mobs and the cruel exertion of power and repression by an occupying force. We hear stories of one-time followers, fragmenting and dispersing in their disillusionment, or huddled in fear.
We also hear stories of women who remained by Jesus’s side through thick and thin, of friends who risked all to provide for respectful burial and blessing of Jesus’s body. We hear of those who prayed in hope and in unrelenting love, and of those who were brought back together as they encountered the living One of God.
In the past few weeks, we’ve been living with our own stories of anxiety and fear in various ways. As I am writing this, in the middle of March, four weeks before Easter, we are living in a time of uncertainty. Having come through unprecedented bushfires and thinking recovery might be starting, we are now in newly uncharted territory.
There is bulk-buying and hoarding, abuse of supermarket staff, anxiety about jobs and income, fear of businesses going under and failing financial markets, worry about children’s education and care of elderly loved ones, and concern for those whose resilience to these challenges is low.
But we also hear of people exchanging phone numbers to keep in touch, sharing supplies with elderly neighbours and checking in on them, and other random acts of kindness.
The situation is tapping into our fears, but what allows us to tap into hope instead?
I’ve been reflecting on how the resurrection stories are ones where Jesus’s followers found hope as they encountered him in their deepest points of despair or disillusionment. Jesus doesn’t fix everything for them, but they experience him in “close encounters”, still with them in their pain … and this changes everything.
They experience God in this Holy One, breaking into their lives and rekindling a sense of hope. This is the Good Friday and Easter story we still tell today.
The story of the breaking in of God’s redeeming love keeps going.
The heart of a society is known by how well it includes and cares for the most vulnerable: widows, orphans, strangers, those left on the edge. The gospel writers call us into loving God and neighbour as ourselves. In the coming months, there will be many who get left on the edge and who could fall through the cracks.
But there is One who brings hope in a different way of living amidst the turmoil and anxiety. Just like Jesus’s friends in the Easter stories, we are called into this Christ life, that brings hope and renewal into our lives and communities. This is our resurrection hope.
This story originally appeared in April’s Crosslight magazine. You can read the full magazine here.