Okay, okay I can hear you now. Why would an Easter post talk about exhaustion?
Simply because Holy Week, or as the disciples may have referred to it, “Hell Week”, was exhausting. Fraught filled. Fear filled. Anchored in Anxiety. Mired in Misery. The Quagmire of Questioning.
My friend Laura in her sermon this morning (see: 1st Presbyterian Church of Brandon Facebook page) spoke of the exhaustion that the disciples must have felt. I appreciated those insights, they so closely resembled my own when in the sermon I wrote (standrews-salmonarm.com) I spoke of the fear the disciples knew. In that fear the news “the tomb is empty” was not good news.
So what underlies all of this exhaustion, fear and reluctance to hear the good news?
Well for ministers it has a lot to do with Holy Week being a Marathon run at sprint speed. Bible study, check. Maundy Thursday service, check. Good Friday service, check. and then with out a pause in between its onto the Easter Service. That has always been an emotional challenge for me. To process the feelings of anger, betrayal, grief and fear and try to make it real to those who will worship and then immediately begin working on the joyous proclamation, “He is Risen” is jarring to say the least.
That shift is startling enough to a congregation on Sunday, so hard to make on a Friday afternoon, but we must, because Sunday is a coming…
This year it was especially so, because we are living in anxious times. We are cut off from family and friend, and living in our isolation bubbles. We are unable to gather together to worship, or to feast and so we have felt this year, more than in other years, the darkness, the despair, the fear, and isolation of the disciples as they huddled in terror in the Upper Room and asked themselves the question, “What went wrong?”
In my reading through Max Lucado’s book I am sensing that the burden of anxiety and fear are in and of themselves exhausting. That exhaustion feeds the fear, which feeds the exhaustion. It’s a merry go round that we need to stop, so that we can get off.
So for the disciples and for us, The Empty Tomb is the stopping place. Fearful, tired, exhausted and confused it is the place we stop. Then, only when we have stopped in front of the empty tomb, can we hear the voice of Jesus speaking our name.
At that moment we gain the understanding of what Lucado calls, becoming the person who clutches the presence of God with both hands.
Yes with both hands. It seems to me that there is desperation in that act. We don’t just reach out and touch, we reach out and grab, hold on tight with both hands because it is only God who can soothe our fears and make room in our hearts to know his peace, his comfort and ultimately his joy.
The words, “The tomb is empty” is no longer another source of pain but instead the start of the joyous proclamation that resounds through the ages, “Jesus Christ is Risen, he is risen indeed.”
HE IS RISEN
Holy God who never ceases to fill us with awe
Easter is a day of so many emotions:
In this time we pause, and wait in you
Searching in the silence waiting to hear your word of assurance
Rise up O Children of God and hear the good news
Into your sorrow hear the good news
Search me and know me
Enter into my peace and calm
Never forget, I am the Everlasting God who is always full of mercy. Amen
So let fear fall, and exhaustion drop away. Jesus lives again and in his love we are reborn. Hallelujah.