Words sound different depending on where we say them. If we stood next to the Grand Canyon, and we referred to how “big” the football stadium was it would not sound the same. If we walked into a one-room house in Guatemala, and we talked about how “small” our bedroom was it would sound different. Our context changes the way words sound!
Over the recent weeks, I have heard certain words differently. As we have been isolated and distant, thinking about the threat of a virus, which affects us all, familiar words have not sounded familiar.
What does it sound like to say, “Calling,” “Community,” or “Compassion” right now? What do we hear when we say, “Hope,” “Faith,” and “Love?” When we long to gather as a church, or we feel the struggle of people around the world, how does it affect what we hear?
How do we hear the word, “Easter,” differently? Howard Thurman describes Easter, “It is the announcement that life cannot ultimately be conquered by death, that there is no road that is at last swallowed up in an ultimate darkness, that there is strength added when the labors increase, that multiplied peace matches multiplied trials, that life is bottomed by the glad surprise.”
Easter reminds us that God’s love is stronger than death, hate, despair, or suffering. Underneath all of life, we find the “glad surprise” of this truth, which is proclaimed on Easter morning! It is what we need to hear when we say “Easter” during these days.
The wonderful Baptist preacher, Bill Self, once pointed out that the story of Easter in the gospel of John, which we read in worship on Easter this year, begins, “While it was still dark . . . .” Before Mary Magdalene ran to tell the others the good news, she started her journey walking towards the tomb that morning with spices in hand while it was still dark.
Easter begins while it is still dark! Underneath all of the heartache and struggle, we find the “glad surprise” of the love of God, which will never let us go. We look forward to the time when we can gather in person again and say such things together!