Both of their faces were stained with tears. The older woman holding the younger. They were rocking slightly. Their shared grief was palpable. I knew neither of them well but I knew that the younger woman had just watched as her son was buried. This was a grief to which I would attend as a pastor over the coming days and weeks and months and years. This would be a grief observed in the life of our faith community.
Several days passed and the older woman came to the church and told me to get in the car. We were going to the younger’s woman’s home. “It is time,” she said, and with that, I followed her lead.
We prayed during our brief journey and I admit now that I did not know exactly what it was “time” for, but that question did not linger long. My mentor was a woman who knew personally the experience of the woman we were visiting. She, too, had buried a child. She possessed a credibility that I did not. I was clearly brought along so that I might learn, not that I might counsel.
She knocked but did not wait long before opening the door. We found our sister hiding in the darkness of a house where every blind was pulled and every light turned off. She was grieving as one who has no hope.
The older woman held her again and simply said, “My dear, precious friend, it’s time to get up. It’s time to get up in the dark. You have to get up in the dark in order to see the sun rise. And you have to get up in the darkness of your grief in order to really know the power of Christ’s resurrection.”
Sobs and then, over time, peace — the peace which passes naturalistic understanding. Grief was being overcome by hope.
Every year on this day, on the day in between the cross and the empty tomb, I revisit that profound experience. Today is a day of keeping vigil at the tomb. Today is a day of counting the cost of our sin and the sacrifice of Christ. Today is a day of real grief, but not as those who have no hope. Which also makes today the day that Christians get up in the dark as a testimony to the world that Christ is risen, indeed!
The people of Jesus stand at the foot of the cross but we also run breathlessly to the gaping glorious reality of the empty tomb. We do not worship a dead man but a living Savior. So, even when it’s dark, we get up, trusting in the One who is risen and risen indeed.
Even as you attend today to the reality of the grief of Jesus’ death, be encouraged to get up in the dark as a witness to the hope we have in Jesus Christ. And on your way to the empty tomb, go by the house of someone you know who has drawn the curtains, shutting out the light. Attend to the grief and then tell them that it’s time to get up — that they might know the power of Christ’s resurrection and live.