Our last holiday in China, Easter. We spent the day with friends, and I fought against the lingering funky mood of yesterday.
We were supposed to have a fire to start the morning, but it rained, so we slept in a bit then sat on the porch to watch the sunrise and read the Easter story. I've heard this story just about as often as the Christmas story, but while reading it through again this morning, I found myself sympathizing with the disciples more than I ever have before.
Since becoming an educator, more than a dozen kids within my local school systems have lost their lives, and the affects are paralyzing to the community because, "just yesterday we were . . ." or "we were playing football together last Friday, and now . . ." and many more. Because they were here, and suddenly, they're not.
The disciples experienced it too. "Just last weekend He was riding on a camel and people were laying down palm branches! And now . . ." Their words linger off. Their minds wander through yesterday's events, because it all happened so fast, and now He's gone and what the hell just happened?
Their friend is now gone. Their mentor. And their king. They believed Him when He said He was God's son. They believed Him when He said He was the king of heaven and earth. They just didn't understand him, fully. And now He's gone.
How can He be king if He's dead?
We speak so often of what happened on Friday and then on Sunday, but what was their Saturday like? I imagined that it was long. And quiet. Minus, perhaps, the cries and tears and maybe even the tossing of tables and chairs because WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?!!!
Nobody has an answer.
How long and how dark was their Saturday night?
The Gospels say that when Mary went to the tomb early Sunday morning, Christ was not there. When she ran back to tell the disciples, most of them were still gathered together, which makes sense, because where would they have gone? Their whole lives were completely dismantled, their future twisted and dark, because how can God's son die?
He said, "Follow me," then He died.
Then suddenly, He wasn't. He was alive, and with them, eating, drinking, laughing. And explaining.
Easter, more than any other Holiday, should bring together family and friends. It should break the chains that bind us and enslave us to divisions and hurts and long-standing arguments. It should remind us to reconcile, and to forgive.
But not in my family. Because, like my mother once said, "Some hurts are just too deep." Yesterday, on Saturday, I resonated with the disciples because I too (albeit, on a much smaller scale) felt lost and without hope, wondering, "Where is Jesus? How can this be happening?" He didn't answer.
Nor did He appear in my apartment today, which I really kinda wish He had because, like Thomas, I have some questions. But He didn't.
And now instead of empathizing with the disciples, I'm envying them. Because in my life, in my family, death still has victory. And at times, the sting is more than I can bear.
On the porch I asked my kids, "Which is more important, Jesus dying, or Jesus rising?" After a short discussion we all agreed on Jesus rising. Because anyone can say, "I will die for your sins," but only God's son can rise again. Only Christ can overpower them.
He died so that we don't have to, and He rose so that we may live. And in-between, His disciples were left asking, "What the hell just happened?" so that they could one day understand.
And that's what I'm left with today, that I believe, but help my unbelief.
That I have hope, but help my lack of hope.
I forgive, help my inability to forgive.
And that ultimately, I still don't understand.
When will Sunday morning come?