The hope(lessness) of Easter
March 24, 2008
Personally I don’t really mind that much if you tell me the end of a movie before I’ve seen it. But this isn’t a characteristic shared by many, most people I know hate to watch a movie, or read a book, if they already know the end. To not even talk about watching a rugby match if you couldn’t see it live, and have already heard the outcome. And even to me this is understandable. I mean, there is little tension if you know that you’re team are going to win, that the heroin are going to marry the hero, or that the underdog will triumph in the end.
Similarly, we seem to have lost the tension between hopelessness and hope in Easter, because we already know the outcome. We already know that the “hero” is going to live again. Actually, we have told ourselves over the centuries, the hopeless part of Easter was not hopeless at all. If it was all part of a big divine cosmic plan, then why should we see hopelessness when we read about Jesus being crucified?
For the past year of two I’ve gotten into the habit of reading the narratives about the empty grave and the living Jesus on resurrection Sunday. The past few months Luke 24 has been pulling me in, all the more making me part of the Jesus story. The more I’m reading it, the more I realize that we have an absolutely amazing story here. In writing this narrative Luke really outdid himself, I think. The way he use tension and surprise, the way the narrative develops, the way in which it climaxes (think Eucharist), the whole story is just constructed in an amazing way.
Also this narrative is making me part of an experience which is not satisfied with simply saying: “Oh, we know we celebrate Jesus’ crucifixion, but don’t worry, in two days we’ll celebrate the resurrection and then all will be better again. It tells of Cleopas and his friend (wife?) who really isn’t expecting anything good to come out of the resurrection. In Luke’s gospel the followers of Jesus didn’t expect a resurrection. For them, Jesus was simply dead.
Which make the hope climax all the more exciting when we get there. When Jesus take the bread, pray, and hand out the bread, and they realize that there is life after death we find the real hopelessness turning into hope. Yes, and maybe we’ve been programmed to know what the end of Easter will be in such a way, that we forget that part of Easter is opening up new possibilities. Where there is hopelessness, we find the possibility of hope. Where there is death, the message of Easter is that life is possible. The resurrection is the story of new possibilities.
Many of us have broken the bread on Thursday evening in remembrance of the night Jesus introduced the Eucharist. Maybe we should now break the bread in remembrance that hope is to be found in the words: “oντως ηγερθη ο κυριος”, “indeed, the Lord has risen”.