It may seem like an odd thing to be writing about suffering so soon after the joy of Easter Sunday. I hesitated even to write this, let alone send it. Yet, I cannot ignore that our own beloved neighbourhood continues to be ravaged by layers of suffering in a broken system which seems beyond hope. The ‘working poor’ is a term which now describes those who were once called ‘middle class,’ and the truly poor are shuffled around until they become impossible to ignore and must be shuffled again.
With this in my head and heart, as I read again all the stories of the people who encounter the resurrected Christ, I notice afresh their utter desolation. That is, until Christ appears to them, they are not expecting to ever see him again. In the aftermath of the horror of the crucifixion, and even upon hearing the testimony of the women who witness the empty tomb, most of them are left bewildered and confused; full of sorrow and fear.
It is so interesting that we often overlook the reality of the despair they are faced with in our own expectation of what they are about to encounter. Yet, how often do WE expect to encounter the joy of Jesus’ presence during our times of despair?
In their stories, we might find a new kind of Easter hope; the kind that reminds us of the unexpected joy that we Christians perhaps ought to expect; the hope we will need when we inevitably experience despair – whether now or later. We may find it helpful to linger with these desolate friends of ours in our Eastertide readings, who testify to us again and again the joy of encountering the resurrected Christ, even in the midst of hopelessness.
I have walked these streets often enough to testify with them that I too have encountered the risen Christ; usually when I least expect it. Christ is risen indeed; on our streets, amongst us.