I am standing at my desk trying to write something that somehow captures the dissonate emotions clamoring for primacy in my heart. I am lamenting the relentless pursuit of Evil as it again and again shows itself in tragedy and loss like the school shooting in Nashville.
I am also preparing for Easter and the hope that Jesus Christ defeated sin and death by being raised from the dead. As I wrestle within the crucible of these conflicting thoughts and feelings, I find that they are inextricably bound together.
Jesus’ death, though the fountainhead of hope for humanity, was bound within the experience of tragedy and loss. The most beautiful, perfect, loving, kind and compassionate person to ever walk the face of this earth was brutally destroyed and murdered by Evil’s intentions and designs.
Calvary is so much more than a tragedy, but it is not less than that. It mysteriously and wonderfully intertwines the suffering of this world with the hope that has penetrated time and space in and through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Easter is only a few days away. Many of us are looking forward to it with sacred anticipation. But very quickly Easter will be in your rearview mirror – an afterthought perhaps clouded by golf tournaments and spring break plans.
But I would posit for you today that you should read the small text on the bottom of that rearview mirror that says, “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.”
For the Christian, Easter informs absolutely everything! If Jesus rose from the dead (and He did), that grinds the lens through which I see and experience the world. It must have an effect on my life. It must, or else it is of no value. It is closer than it appears.
Easter doesn’t remove the sense of loss that we feel when we read about shooters in schools and 9-year-olds and adults being murdered. It does not remove the feelings of loss as cancer ravages the bodies of our loved ones. Or when dementia disintegrates the once beautiful mind of our family member.
Easter doesn’t eradicate lament and loss and mourning, but it does inform them.
Easter says, “There is hope beyond this world. There is something beyond the grave. There is beauty even in the midst of loss. There is a shard of light penetrating the darkness.” The psalmist writes in Psalm 94, “If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought ‘My foot slips,’ your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”
The hope of Easter – the reality of Easter’s resurrection – keeps my foot from slipping and my soul from falling into utter darkness. I cannot begin to speak to the depths of loss experienced by those in Nashville or for many of you reading this article.
However, I can speak to the fact that Jesus Christ lived and died and rose from the grave and ascended to be with the Father. But He won’t stay there forever. He will return one day to make all things right and new; bend guns into plowshares; and wipe every tear from our eyes.
His own story of tragedy and loss points us to the true story of hope for us found only in Him.
I wish for you a blessed Easter.
Rev. Bill McCutchen is lead pastor of Hilton Head Presbyterian Church. email@example.com or hiltonheadpca.com