On the morning of Easter, the faithful disciples run down to where Jesus was laid, and find the stone rolled away, the tomb empty. God says: It is going to be okay.
An angel appears to the women, and tells them not to worry. God says: It is going to be okay.
A man they do not recognize approaches them, in the place where they weep. Do not cry, he tells them, and they recognize him, their eyes opened to miracles and possibility. The present world – the one they thought they knew – moved toward a better future. And God says: It is going to be okay.
How can we hear this message, when places of faith stand empty, when we are prevented from gathering, when we may be trapped alone in our homes? How can we truly listen, when we feel trapped in the shadow of Good Friday, still waiting to be freed? How can we accept it when the new life promised feels far away?
God says: It is going to be okay.
On this, of all Easters, we may be understood for thinking: yeah, right.
And yet, most of us have already lived – as a community and as individuals – through many Good Fridays, and found, at the end, many Easters. We have lived through war, through sickness, through grief – and at the end other, we experienced peace and life and acceptance. We have felt trapped in winter, and still spring came. We have shivered through the cold, and eventually, the sun came out, warm and refreshing on our faces.
And so God says: It is going to be okay.
Imagine how it was for the disciples in our Easter story. Jesus was lost to them, murdered by an angry mob, they were helpless to stop. They are bereft, and alone. Unable to see the path ahead. Some of the disciples are hiding in a room, trapped in isolation, as surely as we are, fearing, just as we do, that they may be struck down by a danger they cannot see or predict. Yet God finds a way to send them the message of Easter, delivered by the returning women: It is going to be okay.
What a Lenten journey we have faced; hiding from the danger that lurks out our own doors. Wrestling with the moral balance it has demanded – how much of our freedom do we sacrifice to save lives? That sacrifice has been unprecedented for this generation, for we have been asked to give up everything we have taken for granted. The freedom to go to work and earn a living, to commune with friends, to play in the park. We feel that loss, keenly.
And yet, there have been larger sacrifices, even darker days. A great war that stole sons and daughters away, that spread a terrible hate. Conflicts that led to genocide. Towers that fell. Disease that ravaged nations.
Each and every time, resurrection happened. Peace won out, and families carried on. Refugees started new lives in new countries. A city was rebuilt. People came to the aid of those most vulnerable.
The world began again, changed from what it was. Out of war and destruction, came new alliances, a global community, treaties to stand against hate. Walls that seemed built to stand forever were pushed down. New diversity led to modern innovations. Just like the disciples who had lost Jesus, we would have rather been spared it all. But just like those disciples, we learned to accept our new reality, and adapt. We learned to hope. We were resilient.
Easter is a certain promise offered to an uncertain world. It reminds us that even if we don’t know what will happen next, even when we can’t see the future, we will get through it. We will heal.
But Easter also reminds us of one caveat to that promise: to heal, we must remember. The sun sets on Good Friday but we cannot forget it. For war to be a true lesson, we still must teach it to the generations who didn’t experience it. It is the same today, when the pandemic passes, we have to be careful to learn from this experience, so that it does not happen again. This is where we have gone wrong so many times. History is on repeat: good leaders die at the hands of new angry mobs, peace crumbles to new wars, disease spreads because we fail to plan. Perhaps, then the promise of Easter could do with a small edit: Everything will be okay. But maybe we could all try to be better next time.
Still, until that chance presents itself, remember the angel, who urges the disciples at the tomb not to worry. And the spirit of Jesus who consoles them not to weep. And remember that those brave women did not linger, they acted to tell the other disciples what happened, and restart the world. Because God had told them: Everything is going to be okay.