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Spiritual Growth

A Reflection on Easter

By Harriett J. Olson

Acts 10:34-43; Ps. 118:1-2, 14-24; I Cor. 15: 1-11; Jn 20:1-18 or Mk 16:1-8

"She’s right. That’s just the way it happened."

How many times have you shared amazing news or a wonderful story to general disbelief? How many times has some enterprising male agreed to check it out for the benefit of the disbelieving community?

Imagine how Mary and the other women felt after their early morning trek to the tomb. Disbelieved by the believers! It was a day of amazing sadness and impossible joy.

It still is! The journey to the cross and then to the garden tomb is one that we make each year. We follow the jubilation of the crowd on Palm Sunday, the anger of Christ in the temple and the denials all around as the week draws to its climax. But…then there is the misty dark of Easter morning.

First light is not my favorite time of day, but for Mary and the other women it was just as soon as they could return to the work interrupted by Sabbath two days earlier. First light in the garden. A difficult time for grief and a difficult time for faith. Perhaps only duty takes us there, or sadness.

Have you had losses that wake you up or keep you up during the night, a sort of vigil for the dreams that have not been fulfilled and the potential cut short? Surely the women carried all of this with them to the garden.

No wonder Mary went through the exchange with Jesus. She is so filled with sadness that she can hardly see the joy standing in front of her.

But how difficult that day turns out to be as she returns to share with the disciples as Jesus had instructed. That was a great cultural leap, of course. The women alerted the men to what had transpired outside the safety of the community. The women, of course, were not legally credible witnesses at that time, but they are the witnesses that Jesus chose. How amazing to be instructed: go and tell my brothers!

Those “brothers” didn’t believe the women’s tales. How hard for the women! They had wonderful news, but they weren’t believed. At least two of the men went to check it out for themselves. I wonder if the women felt any better when Thomas reacted similarly to the report of Jesus having come to the disciples.

Sometimes it is hard to believe the good news. In fact, many of us resonate with the rather cynical observation that “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” That gives us some sympathy with the disciples. They had been on an emotional rollercoaster and they were not willing to be “taken in” at that point by three women.

Thanks be to God, this is one day on which the cynics are wrong. The unimaginable is possible. The barrier of human death is revealed as vulnerable and the love of God shows through in glory and in humility.

Thanks be to God for the calling to give testimony to the (almost) unbelievable love of God. May it be that others will be moved to “check it out” because of your witness and mine.

*Harriett J. Olson is the Deputy General Secretary for the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.
Last Updated: 04/06/2010

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