I’m disappointed to discover that the Christian Liturgical Calendar was not as useful an indicator of my mood as I was hoping. You may recall that I’ve posted recently about my relief that we had finally arrived in Lent. Finally we were in a season of grief that I could share with everyone around me. And that was very comforting. Plus I was expecting Easter to be a big exciting happy day. “He is Risen!” I would cry.
It is true, He is Risen. I was surrounded by joyful friends in celebration for the Easter Vigil on Saturday night, but my heart is still heavy. Easter Sunday wasn’t better. It was sadder.
I am not sharing in order to navel gaze and publicly emote at all of you. This season of sadness and deep longing for life to be and feel differently is opening my eyes to the suffering of the world. Sunday afternoon I left the Easter picnic alone because I needed some time by myself. While I was driving I had a moment of inspiration about what it means to be a faithful Christian in this time of waiting for Jesus to return.
Mary Magdeline was fortunate and beloved of God, enough so that she was the first to see the Risen Lord and go running in ecstatic joy to tell the news. And even though her male counterparts doubted her at first, eventually she was validated and Jesus walked into a room and revealed himself to them all. I imagine she was so thrilled. So happy that the first man who valued her, the first man who didn’t know her as “the Prostitute,” the first man to befriend her only to be violently killed before her eyes was not actually dead. He was still here. He could still be her friend.
And then just a few short weeks later He was gone.
As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” Acts 1:10-11
I imagine the deep disappointment of Mary Magdeline after Jesus departed this Earth on a cloud. Maybe the initial joy of the resurrection was so complete that her old suffering lived miles away from her brain. For a time the men and women in the early church forgot her past as well, they disregarded how her past was an embarrassment to their sensibilities and lived in joy along side her.
But months pass and in the waiting for Jesus to return from His Father’s house she began to forget what it was like to be close to Him. Perhaps a few months after Jesus rose from the dead, Mary would wake up sweaty from a dream where she was once again being sold and abused. I bet her traumatized brain would just regurgitate this horrid falsehood and she’d have to shake it away to make space for the truth. Jesus is returning. He will come back in the same way she saw Him go.
This is why each Sunday is a mini-Easter. Mary Magdeline. Me. You. We are practicing mini-Easters again and again until the Lord returns, and a whole lot of the time we don’t feel the joy. We feel the oppression of our fears instead. Fake it till we make it. Practice makes perfect. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.