My mum delivered the news as if announcing that dinner was ready. But nothing was ready. Aunt Mary was healthy…we’d just recently visited her, played hide and seek under big old beds, eaten rough-cut slices of bread, layered thick with butter and jam. We weren’t ready for this, not Mary. Not dead.
We said nothing on the journey down, too afraid of the sadness escaping, too many crying children for one car to hold. Eyes fixed on the road, the passing trees, other cars. Anywhere but here.
Our sombre procession to the house was interrupted, my mother shaken into shrieking by the opening door. And Mary. We stood for a moment, frozen, unsure in this new world where the dead make an appearance at their own doors. Of course, there was a mistake. The nurse calling us mixed up names. Someone else died in the family: sad but not a shock. And not Mary. Not dead.
Jesus died a brutal and horrific death. His friends brought his tortured body to a tomb. They’d lost him and then they think they’ve lost the body…until he shows up, alive. I remember that it took days after losing and finding Mary before we felt the ground a bit firmer under our feet and could enjoy her company again with new delight. The fifty days of Easter – up until Pentecost – are set aside to help us work through a much bigger story - Jesus’ death and resurrection - to relive and enjoy his coming back from the dead, to be excited again by the new life he brought with him and the promise of the Spirit.
Follow the story with us each week and be excited again by his return and what he brings to us. Start by joining the disciples on the first day of a new beginning. Stand at the mouth of the empty tomb in Luke’s gospel and hear the angels telling you to look for him among the living. Or imagine yourself standing with Mary as she recognises him in the garden.
…We weren’t ready for this — not Jesus — not dead!