IT’S Easter – a time of celebration, when Christian people all over the world celebrate that Jesus has overcome the power of death and opened to us the gift of eternal life.
For us today to try to imagine how those who first visited the empty tomb felt, following the crucifixion of Jesus, is probably quite indescribable.
Yet we might imagine that, in the early hours of that morning, with the darkness of the time surrounding the heavy despondent hearts of those who believed their friend – the one they trusted and loved – was gone forever, it would be a ‘dark’ time.
But, spectacularly, the power of God transformed the gloomy picture and, in a similar way that a warm and glowing sunset can brighten up the darkness, the hearts and minds of the first visitors to the empty tomb changed positively forever.
Today, around us, human experiences regularly share a similar story, a transition between light and darkness. Listen to conversations on the bus or in the supermarket queue and you will hear the voices of people whose light seems always to be fading – people whose joys seem back in the past.
For some people, the reasons are understandable, and who doesn’t enjoy the occasional trip down Memory Lane to happier times?
Yet being held down with thoughts of dark times is not healthy either.
Two thousand years ago, the disciples of Jesus had seen the sun go down over the cross on the first Good Friday, and again on the following day.
With all their hopes shattered, there was nothing else for them, they believed, but to go back with all their cherished memories, to their jobs and to the places where they lived.
Yet there were some who stayed in the city; those whose eyes – for whatever reason – strained towards the dawning of the third day.
As St John tells us: “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed.”
In that darkest hour before sunrise, these moments brought more than just the gentle streams of first light into the eastern sky.
It was to be the most brilliant moment of Mary’s life as there, in the garden, at first light, she found what she least expected – the victorious Risen Christ.
It is all too easy to dwell on things as they were in the past, or as we imagine them to have been.
Easter’s liberating message of challenges us to break out from all of that and to turn from the darkness to the sunrise.
We’re an Easter people, a sunrise people, with every one of us, in our own way, equipped to share in all that is good.