By Elizabeth Geitz
On Easter Sunday, April 8, Christians around the world will proclaim, “He is risen. The Lord is risen indeed!” On the three words, “Jesus is risen,” hinges the entire Christian faith, the meaning of the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, the difference between death and eternal life.
Because of their faith in these three words, every apostle, legend has it, died the death of a martyr. But over two thousand years later, how easy is it to believe that Christ has conquered death and a new creation has been born?
Do you ever wonder . . . where is this new creation? When peace in the Middle East is more elusive than ever – it’s hard to know where the new creation is. When one lone American soldier opens fire and kills 16 Afghan women and children – it’s hard to know where the new creation is. When children are going to bed hungry at night in our own country – it’s hard to know where the new creation is.
Where is the evidence of the risen Christ for Christian people in the midst of such daily occurrences? In the Bible, the Gospel of Mark tells us that when the Sabbath is past Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James awaken at dawn and go to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices.
They seek him. In the midst of their heartbreak, dejection and defeat, expecting nothing but a lifeless form, they nonetheless go to Jesus. They go in search of him.
Then, they walk straight into the empty tomb. These three women did not gaze inside and run off. They faced the blackness, the uncertainty of the empty tomb, and walked right into it. They walked into darkness and found light. They walked into emptiness and found fullness. They walked in alone and found angels there to guide them.
Where is the empty tomb in your life? What is it that lies before you gaping in blackness and uncertainty? What do you need to walk straight through?
Where is the new creation? Paradoxically, we’ll most likely find it when we have the courage to do what the women did, to walk right into the middle of the darkness, trembling with fear and perplexity. Paradoxically, we’ll most likely find it where we least expect it. It wasn’t until they walked into the death of the tomb that they were told, “He is risen; he is not here.” It wasn’t until Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” that Christians believe he was raised in glory.
Where are the people of the new creation? In the midst of fullness and abundance, blithely sailing through life with few problems? Probably not, because those who have been created anew, look for all the world like people carrying a cross.
We must walk into that place where we most fear being. We must walk into emptiness and darkness to find fullness and light. And oh, how we avoid this! What we won’t do to avoid the dark corners of our lives. We’ll mask them with overwork, busyness, hard playing, overeating, or overdrinking, whatever we can find, to avoid that empty tomb that resides somewhere in each and every one of us.
Only when we have the courage to walk right into it, will it no longer hold power over our lives. Only when we walk into the tomb, which is womb-like, can we find new life, rebirth.
Wherever you find yourself on your spiritual journey, may this Christian season of Easter find you filled with the courage of those women from so long ago, ready to walk without fear into the unknown, into the darkness, where light awaits.
Elizabeth Geitz is an Episcopal priest and the author of six books, including her newest, I Am That Child: Changing Hearts and Changing the World, about her journey to a Cameroonian orphanage. Visit her at www.elizabethgeitz.com.