I’m glad Easter is not just a day but a season. Even when all is going well in my life, it takes me longer than one day to leap from the desolation and grief of Christ’s death on the cross to the joy of his resurrection. When death’s shadows hover close over those I love personally, it takes even longer. Then when death’s stark finality strikes hard — when emptiness… void… absence seem suddenly permanent, it takes longer, still. Yet, somehow, I think that’s ok! I think it’s ok to take my time… ok to move at my own pace through grief and despair to hope.
The Synoptic Gospels – with compact description, scarcity of detail, and omission of any defined time lapse between events – suggest by assumption that it may have taken only ONE DAY for Jesus to vacate the tomb, appear alive, make personal post-resurrection encounters, and convince most of his apostles he would be with them always. Only in John’s Gospel do details relate Jesus’ post-resurrection time on earth as not one day, but at least eight. Why eight? Because it took eight days to reach out, encounter and convince Thomas, the Doubter; eight days for Thomas to open himself to belief and healing.
In contrast, according to the book of Acts, Jesus needed 40 DAYS with his apostles:
…40 days to prepare them to imagine life without him;
…40 days to strengthen them sufficiently to move beyond their grief;
…40 days to enable them to live without his daily, physical presence;
…40 days to encourage them
–to move from a state of paralysis and despair to belief, hope, action…
–to stop living in the past…
–to move forward, seizing the future with faith…
–to become courageous witnesses of the risen Christ!
…40 days to leave them –with a promise.
Whatever transformation occurred between Easter Day and Pentecost, one thing is for sure – it was not an instant change! Jesus needed time! The disciples needed time! And sometimes when we feel overcome by circumstances beyond our control, when we are honest with ourselves, we admit we also need time – perhaps even more time than those early followers required. Then, we can acknowledge our personal times of loss– our times of pain too deep for words – times that require not one but at least 40 days before we can shed the past:
At least 40 days …to proceed past darkness into light.
At least 40 days… to plow through despair to hope.
At least 40 days …to transform sadness into joy.
At least 40 days …to transcend absence with belief in eternal presence.
At least 40 days …to grow from death to life.
Like those first disciples, I thank God daily that Easter is a Season… and not just a day!