The end is the new beginning
I am a ‘homebody.’ My closest friends laugh and say that is a severe understatement. I am a homebody, somebody who prefers home to other places.
This has not always been the case. But the older I get (I know, 25 isn’t that old, but it’s the oldest I’ve ever been) the more I am content to stay at home.
When my friends can convince me to leave the house long enough to go to a movie, it is quite a big deal and I will go see a really great movie in the theaters. But, upon leaving the theater, no one ever walks out saying, “Wow! That was so great! I hope they ruin this movie with a terrible sequel!”
Sequels have the potential to make a movie even better or make you want to forget you ever paid $11 to sit in front of a giant screen.
Movies have the power to take you to another time, another place, to transform the way you see the word, to change the way you see yourself, to help you touch a side of your heart you forgot existed, and to make you so scared you sleep with the lights on, or to laugh so hard you cry, or to cry so hard your tears run dry.
Sequels, however, can be embarrassing, awkward and a waste of time.
The church has a special calendar to help us celebrate the different seasons; to mark the life and teaching of Jesus. We have already passed Easter, the day we celebrate life breaking through death.
However, we are still in the “Easter Season.” And, in a way, the weeks following the day of the Resurrection are kind of like a bad movie sequel.
Easter Sunday has angels dressed in white; a man who we thought was dead raised back to life, showing us not even death itself can hold back the love of God.
We see Jesus’ friends discovering this great mystery of mysteries, and we decorate with flowers and lilies, and together we usher in spring and the newness of life given to us through God’s love.
But the stories we read after Easter are about friends of Jesus who don’t recognize that he has been raised up; we read stories of people doubting his return, we find some of Jesus closest followers are put in jail for telling the story of Jesus, and we find more questions than answers.
All this becomes something of a letdown, an unsatisfying sequel to a great Easter Story.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor during World War II in Germany, was put in prison for being a leading spokesperson for the Confessing Church, a resistance movement against the Nazis.
On April 8, 1945, the night he was led away to his death he wrote, “This is the end, but for me the beginning of life.”
Maybe these stories and days after Easter are not as disappointing as I once thought they were. Maybe Easter isn’t just the end of something; maybe the Easter Story is the beginning of life.
If we look at the Easter Story as the first chapter in our book of life, then perhaps it makes sense that the first people to hear the story struggle to find its meaning and make sense of all that has happened to them.
Maybe we too can find ourselves in these first pages after the Easter Story; we muddle through the best we can, try and care for one another along this journey, and search for meaning and hope despite the pain, sickness, addictions, or death we have faced in our lives.
Maybe Easter is not the end, but the hope we search for; knowing there is a God that walks with us through these coming days.