For decades, even centuries, the battle raged in the early Church. Did Jesus rise bodily from the dead? Was the tomb empty?
In the last few weeks, the world has been turned upside down. We long to comfort the sick and them that mourn, but we know that our presence brings danger to them, us, and the wider community. The Gospels tell us that touch brings healing, but we know that, for now, it risks contagion. Some among us have experienced acute and painful grief; many struggle with isolation; still more fear economic uncertainty. Grief, isolation, and fear. In this Holy Week, we have been buried with Christ.
But we know this season will not last. Like spring, the signs are everywhere. The Holy Spirit, more irrepressible than sickness, isolation, or death, finds a way. We feel reawoken gratitude for those who care for us and for the most vulnerable. We foster new relationships with our neighbours in quiet acts of kindness or noisy clapping. We cherish family and friends more, whether we are together or apart. We are reminded that no matter how much we love our church building, one day we will have no need of it, for our God dwells not in a temple made by human hands. We are led, as is the way of the Kingdom, by those who have been living with physical or mental isolation. We are locked in our rooms, but walls are nothing to the presence of the risen Christ. We live entombed, but Jesus calls us by name and unbinds us from fear and death. It is evening, but Christ is with us on the way, if only we have eyes to see.
But, today, we are given one sign greater than even these.
It feels like darkness covers our city, our country, and the world. We cannot yet leave our homes. But, today, while it is still dark, we go to the tomb. And there we find it empty, find that he has left behind those things that clothe us for death: grief, isolation, fear.
For Christ is risen. Alleluia.