Today on Easter after reflecting on a full season of Lent – a season of waiting and remembering and expecting the Glory of the Lord. After a season of wondering and not knowing. A season of doubt and questioning. Lent ends with not just an immediate day full of joy but that long season is followed by instead a day like Good Friday – full of pain and grief and confusion. Easter Sunday becomes fuller and richer when viewed in full and not just as a stand alone holiday. If you only look at Easter Sunday on it’s own, it is a wonderful day to celebrate – “Jesus has risen!” It’s unbelievable news. Jesus is Lord and Savior and full of Glory and holds the victory. Death has been defeated. Kids are full of excitement with treats and egg hunts and beautiful pastel colors. Easter is a season of things being born as spring comes to life. The tomb is empty. Jesus is the King. 

And today is all of those wonderful, beautiful things. But the waiting and the pain and grief still happened and they don’t just disappear. 

As I read the different Gospels this morning accounting that scene of Easter morning, they all say that the empty tomb was met with both fear and joy. In Mark it says Mary Magdelene and Mary the Mother of Jesus ran from the tomb because trembling and astonishment overwhelmed them. They were overwhelmed by two very different and deep emotions. There is space this morning for all of the emotions. Sometimes it takes joy and redemption a little while to sink in and even so let us never forget the pain of the cross. The joy of the empty tomb has to sit alongside the pain. It doesnt replace it. This both/and is how Jesus calls us to live. That space in between – it is filled with hope. Hopeful expectation that even though death is real, Jesus is more powerful than death. In order to really feel the depth of that promise, we must look death in the eyes. In order to fully experience the beauty of redemption, we must remember that there are things that need to be redeemed. In order to embrace the empty tomb, we must also fully grasp that the tomb exists. 

And at the same time, If all you have felt in a while is the excruciating pain of failure, rejection, imperfection, anxiety, or death. If those feelings and states of being have consumed and overwhelmed you, let today be a reminder that even though those feelings are seen and real, even thought the tomb exists, we also need to make room for astonishment. Remember that redemption is also just as real and true. His mercies are new every morning. I have started waking up each morning by writing at least one thing that I am thankful for. Some mornings that is easy and I can fill up a page. Other days when I’m tired and full of fear and anxiety, it forces me to step outside of that fear into the love and truth that brought Jesus out of the tomb. 

Gentle hope says all of that pain and grief and death will be remembered. But thats not the end. Let hope creep into that space today and just maybe let it burst forth. Dont let the fear of pain keep you from experiencing the wonder and excitement of a Savior that promises redemption. And at the same time dont get so consumed by the passionate glory that you forget the cross. Today brings them all together. Today love is shown to be real and victorious in death and in life. 

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