Waiting in the Darkness!

Betrayal and Love
April 14, 2022
He is Risen indeed. Hallelujah!
April 16, 2022

Our time of waiting upon the Lord’s crucifixion and death, we hope is nearly over.  We have prayed and wept together and on our own.  We are hollowed out by grief and tears as we understand and recognise the dreadful things done to Jesus and his painful death on the cross.  Grief comes in waves and overwhelms us without rhyme or reason. 

Our Lenten journey has taken us along the pilgrimage with Jesus as we have travelled with him these last seven weeks.   We have now arrived at the time of waiting, the endless waiting after death for the rituals of death to be done properly.  Together with the women who have come to prepare his body for the grave, we want to do these lovingly and gently, not hurried as they were before the start of the Sabbath, when the body was removed from the cross and an empty tomb given for Jesus’ dead body to be placed inside before sunset. 

What has struck me in this Lenten journey is our growing realisation and understanding, nothing can ever be the same again for us.   Arundhati Roy, an Indian writer said: ‘once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it’, and she’s quite right about this story.  This is changing everything.  So where are you in your heart and mind on this Easter Saturday Night Vigil, as we wait for the Sabbath to end so we can go and see the tomb of our beloved Lord. 

Waiting is one of the hardest experiences to endure.   There is no certainty the waiting will end; there is no certainty all will be well at the end of the waiting. Death is final, and the waiting, the shape of the absence of our Lord looks like it will be forever.   We wait and we wait and we wait.  We no longer know for what we wait, but wait we must, so we can at least attend to the Lord.

The Gospel reading tonight (Matthew 28:1-10) provides us with the story of what happens next, as we look forward to tomorrow morning.  But you and I are lingering here in the in-between times, a most precious time which we should not hurry.  A time when we need to be still and lean into God to hear God’s heart beating with love and promise for God’s Son and for us, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

For those among us facing into illness, tragedy, betrayals, trials or personal failures, it often seems Christ’s love is far removed.  Perhaps we feel Christ’s love is buried in a tomb, behind a stone which we cannot move; a stone rolled over our hearts and our spirits. 

Yet how often does Jesus surprise us with his presence, precisely in the middle of our darkest times?  On this occasion, (Matthew 28:1-10) we are told it was like an earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it and waited for the women to arrive. 

Jesus’ presence with us in such times of despair and darkness is possible because he has chosen through the cross to enter into the darkness with us.  When we discover we are the ones buried and overwhelmed in the darkness, we wonder ‘where is Jesus’?   

As I said a couple of weeks ago, in our darkest moments many of us look upward hoping to see God reaching down to help us.  What catches us off guard is God lovingly reaching out to us from directly beside us, in the darkness. 

This is what it means to have a crucified Saviour who has chosen to embrace the depths of human darkness and suffering and still, always, to share God’s extravagant, all-embracing love.

Jesus helps us into the light of the dawn breaking upon us, as in this Easter Saturday Vigil we wait for a sign.  As we rise early to go to the tomb tomorrow morning, we are tipped into a new creation while we are still catching our breath, scrambling to keep our breath.  The world rocks around us and we are terrified, this on top of everything that has already happened.  And then, we hear the angel tell us:

Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified…  He has been raised from the dead and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.  Matthew 28:5-7  

What does this mean?  An empty tomb and no body.  Only two women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there to see the dawning of the new creation, a new birth midwifed by two women and God, and it is there we encounter Jesus Christ risen indeed!  We fall at his feet in joy and amazement.  And filled with the joy at the wonderful news, as is the way when telling of a new birth, the two women become the prime witnesses and of the resurrected Lord, a new world beginning as they spread the good news.  

Forget normal, after God has died for love, and God has raised Jesus from the dead, God has given birth to a new creation, new life and new beginnings for all of us.  Nothing will ever be the same again. 

We can peer into the darkness of the tomb together.  We can see the wonder God has worked among us as the earth has shifted. 

Jesus’ resurrection declares there is hope beyond death, and all the death-dealing powers of the world do not have the final say in our lives.  This news offers hope to everyone, it challenges the power of the world’s forces that can kill us.  To everything threatening us, now and into the future, even with death, we can say, Jesus has survived the worst they can do and so can we. 

The waiting is nearly over, the time for action will be here soon.  Wait patiently and be ready.
The Lord be with you.

Lucy Morris
Lucy Morris
Anglican Priest, International Speaker, Published Author, Social Justice Advocate and Activist.

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