No Fanfares that First Easter

There's a lot of darkness in Holy Week. I think also of the darkness of the resurrection itself, that morning when it was hard to be sure what you were seeing, where Mary thought it was Jesus and it turned out to be the gardener, this figure in white. She's not quite sure who she's seen or what she's seen -- the confusion of it. The account is rather garbled -- who got there first and who told whom, all of it taking place in half-darkness anyway, not in a great blaze of light ... the darkness and the confusion and the half-light of that Easter morning, where nobody is quite sure what happened. I don't think anywhere does it describe somehow the sun coming up in a great burst of glory, but in some sense the sun did come up. The most powerful argument for the fact that something extraordinary happened on that Sunday morning is the fact that the church survived, this little band of terrified Jews who were hiding out somewhere. [There is] that famous scene where Jesus appears before them and Thomas is not there, do you remember? And then Jesus comes by. Something happened to galvanize them into a movement that has survived for all these 2,000 years, something extraordinary.

The New Testament doesn't try to pretend that it happened with flags flying and the light rising to a crescendo. It happens subtly, it happens in half-light, it happens here, it happens there. Jesus comes, then he's not there anymore, and yet the proclamation is that it was an event of cosmic significance, not only in terms of the whole destiny of the earth but in terms of our own destinies -- that somehow this reality, which not even that kind of death could destroy, remains among us and within us and approachable, and something to which one can give oneself and listen to, wait for.

- Frederick Buechner, in an interview on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, published on their website
Frederick Buechner
April 18, 2003    Episode no. 633