Have you ever seen a ghost? Ever suspected you have? How about this, have you ever had one of those feelings like there is a ghost, or something... the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, your body starts pumping adrenaline with a fight or slight sort of response; and it all seems so perfectly scary...
It is a hard feeling to explain to someone else – it is hard to capture... I think perhaps that is why Stephen King is famous, he is one of the only writers who can put down on paper what it feels like to see a ghost and have us feel it too.
There are feelings that are close – I imagine... Ever broken your mom’s favourite vase? Ever put a baseball through someone’s window? Ever realize you are about three hours late for something? Ever lost your wallet?
I know, I know, not quite the same thing –
... and if someone has never done any of those things, there is no way to quite capture how you feel when you are explaining it to them.
Have you ever noticed the adjectives for Easter morning? The women, and the disciples, are amazed, perplexed, and terrified. In John Mary is even weeping and yelling at the guy she thinks is the gardener...
Those are the emotions we feel when something doesn’t make sense – when something seems unbelievable and scares us...
Those are in fact, the Good Friday emotions, but it is good to keep in mind that these are the emotions that drive the women to the garden that early morning after the Sabbath. They have lost the one they love, life doesn’t make sense, and they are alone....
If we do not start there, the story doesn’t make any sense – because again, it is impossible to get across what happens next. Although, like I said, we can tell stories that remind us what it was. It is like when your mom sees the vase, asks if you are ok, and gives you a big hug. It is like when the guy laughs and says he broke a few windows when he was a kid too. It is like when you find your wallet after a couple of hours searching and realize everything is ok.
It is the prophecy of Isaiah: “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.”
So what is this new thing?
You know what I love about the Easter story of the Gospel of Luke? Jesus is not in it. The closest you get is someone who might be an angel asking the question: Why do you look for the living among the dead?
So that is our question as we come once more to the mystery of Easter – why are we looking for the living among the dead?
The message of resurrection, ever ancient, ever new, is that Christ is not “here;” inhabiting the realm of the dead... he has, to quote another part of Luke, “Gone on ahead.”
And so, once more, we are summoned to live, proclaim and celebrate the empty tomb... we are called to resist all those forms of death and violence that saturate our culture.
I don’t know if any of you have ever heard a Latin Easter Mass – but there is a wonderful proclamation that just sounds – right – and poetic in Latin:
"mors et vita duello conflixere mirando”...
“Life and death are locked in wondrous struggle.”
“dux vitae mortuus regnat vivus” ...
“life’s leader, once dead, reigns as the living one.”
That is the good news. The rest is up to us.