Light at the end of the tunnel this Easter
Aren’t we glad to see Easter arrive this year? A Spring break from routine, children out of school and some time away from work – not to mention the chocolate eggs and sense of festivity – is enjoyed every year. But Easter’s arrival after such a hard winter and months of grueling lockdown feels extra specially welcome.
All of us know what it is like to come out into daylight after a spell in a tunnel of darkness. Maybe a train journey when we are literally plunged into a dark tunnel beneath a hillside and must wait for sunlight to reappear so we can see again. Or a period of life when we are struck down by loss or some kind of affliction, our days are filled with gloom or restrictions and instead of facing them with easy confidence we feel crushed by life.
That sense of coming through a dark place is how Christians see Good Friday.
It is our annual remembrance of the suffering of Jesus as he is crucified by cruel people and unjust forces. Our world today, both locally and globally, is full of such examples of cruelty and injustice, undeserved pain, and unwanted destruction. Jesus dies a young man, humiliated, and abandoned by those he might have relied on. It is a picture to us of all we fear most, things that might happen to us. Abandonment, betrayal, meaningless suffering and at the end of it the prospect of despair, an early grave of some sorts.
Except that is not how the story ends. The tunnel into which Jesus enters is not just a dark grave like any person who has died. Earlier in its life the Church once imagined how on Holy Saturday Jesus went, not to a cold tomb of nothingness, but instead he travelled to the darkest place of all, the place we fear most, and we call ‘hell’. He went there to rescue “Adam” and “Eve”, to pluck every one of us humans out of the place of our dying.
The daylight of Easter Day, a day of life reborn, is made all the more joyful and welcome because we have been through the tunnel of our gloom and dying.
Without the pain of our suffering and the reality of our death we cannot fully appreciate the extraordinary gift of new life.
In 2021 we know that to be true. We have suffered the ‘hell’ of being cut off from our most treasured relationships, our life-giving activities, and the sheer pleasure of roaming free. For many the tunnel of lockdowns was unbearable, and they will take time to recover. All of us felt the darkness, yet here is daylight. Here is the promise of health, hope and faith. In Easter we have the promise that faith matters, and that we are rescued from being abandoned and the fear of being forsaken.
In God’s resurrection there is always light at the end of the tunnel.