By Sue Ellen Spotts
So (the women) went out and fled from the tomb for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (Mark 16:9)
I can’t say that I blame the women for not saying anything. What, exactly, would they have said, anyway? And, if they had found words to describe what had happened, who would have believed them? We call the resurrection event “good news,” but in those first days it was frightening.
The transformative power of the resurrection story is not in the mere emptiness of the tomb. Rather, the power is in the proclaiming that the tomb is empty. The fierce triumph over evil was reaching its climax in the silence of Saturday, while all the disciples were mourning what was lost. The world could only be shaped by the victory if the victory was announced to the world.
The new creation ushered in by Christ echoes the first creation. In the beginning, God spoke and order emerged from chaos. The order was good, and it had good purpose. When, in the generations that followed, the people of God yielded to encroaching chaos, prophets announced a word that would restore the blessed order, and give hope that the people were not abandoned. The prophetic word reminded broken and rebellious people that they were created for a better way. The words of reminder had the power to restore order and good purpose, if only for awhile.
We are weeks past the initial Alleluia of Easter morning. But much of what surrounds us is frightening. The evil in the world screams at us from social media, 24 hour news cycles, banner headlines of innumerable publications. Incidents which once would have been confined to local knowledge become world news. The cacophony of wars, riots, kidnappings, natural disasters, ethnic injustice, gender violence, rampant disease, environmental degradation bellows incessantly. We can shrink from the chaos.
Or, we can challenge the chaos with a word of good news. The emptiness of the tomb does not speak of abandonment; it speaks of hope and new order. Chaos is driven out by the announcement of Alleluia. Words in speech and words in deed give evidence of new creation.
Mark’s Easter account offers a reality with which we may well identify. We flee in fear from world events which seem to give evidence that God has abandoned us. Even if we want to believe it is not so, what word of peace or healing do we find in the emptiness? And who will believe us?
In the face of hunger, we prepare community meals. In the wake of violent riots, we repair the damaged neighborhood. At the hearing of a racial stereotype, we speak a kind work of correction. As legislators deliberate policies of war, we write letters appealing for justice.
The power to bring order comes when we dare to speak and act in defiance of the chaos. In the beginning, God proclaimed, “Let there be…” and light and life reigned. At the empty tomb, Jesus’ absence announced the reign of new life. Today, every word of peace, act of healing, intercession for the world we make clarifies the vision of the new creation and offers hope to overcome the fear.