Nothing is the Same, Nor Will it Ever Be…

April 12, 2020

These words of truth are more present now at this Easter than ever before.  We are surrounded by death.  Each number is a life; each life is a story and a connection.  Each person is someone’s child and a child of God.  Fear is settling in and becoming a companion on our journey.  The emptiness and loss of what Easter used to look like is present in our thoughts and minds.  Nothing is the same, nor will it ever be.  I have often asked the question, and maybe you have as well, why is all this happening?  What does all this mean?  Answers are fewer and harder to find than the questions.

I am drawn into today’s Gospel, of two disciples running to a tomb to check out the story that they had heard.  It is an unbelievable and unthinkable story.  The body of Jesus is gone.  With every stride, their minds had to contemplate what all this meant and not only if it was true, but what did it mean.  The Gospel goes on to say the faster disciple arrived first and looked in.  He saw the burial cloths.  After Simon Peter arrives and enters, the disciple who was there first follows and then he sees and believes.  I have thought a lot about that space in time of the faster disciple.  He sees, he then begins to process what he has witnessed and he begins to reflect.  He has time to possibly integrate what he is seeing before Simon Peter arrives.  He then enters more deeply to find his belief that Jesus is risen and Jesus is Lord.  I think the space in time, that gap, is where we are now.  We are seeing the world differently.  Everything that we once knew is now changed, the unimaginable is all around us.  We are seeing great suffering and stories of overcoming obstacles.  We are wondering how can this be and we are finding others whose hearts are so filled with creative love that they are sending messages with chalk or technology.   The pain of a world changed surrounds us.  We are all in the process of asking, what does this all mean?  It took courage for the faster disciple to enter in more deeply and to believe.  It took time for him to process what he saw when he peered into the tomb.  It took time.  We don’t know how slow Simon Peter was.  We are in this gap of time and we are invited to allow it to strengthen us for the opportunity of when we have the courage to enter in more fully and deepen our belief.  This will happen.  The Holy Spirit promised and will lead us in.  That is when it will happen.

When the death of the way things used to be surrounds us, there is just one way to go, to the place of new life.  It was in a tomb, a place of death, that the faith of the disciples was strengthened.  We must begin the process of courage.  We must look at the messiness and see the potential and the gift of new life.  We have something maybe others do not, faith in Jesus the Christ who has overcome death.  We have something maybe others do not, belief in the commitment of Jesus our Savior to save us.  It is okay to be living in this gap in time, where what we see is scary, unthinkable and unimaginable.  It is real and the fear and grief is real.  We have been given this time to find the courage to believe.

Nothing is the same, nor will it ever be.  I choose to enter into the depth of the darkened tomb into a place of death, all the while trusting and believing.  Realize the faster disciple did not do this instantaneously.  It took him time while he waited for Simon Peter to arrive and enter in.  Only then could he follow.  We are all in this together.  God is patient with us.  God will give us as much time as we need to enter in and believe.

May the gift of the Resurrection of the Lord bring you a peace only He can give.

Happy Easter,

Reverend  John J. Ouper