This is Saturday, what I like to think of as the in-between day during Holy Week. Thursday is for betrayal and Friday is for death, and Sunday's coming to life. What is Saturday for? The Apostles Creed says: "He descended into hell." Now how should we respond? What should our posture be on this day, this kind of between-events day?
For Pastor Wright the "Easter Vigil" reflection takes us to Matthew 28.1-10 and an emphasis on three Easter commands. The first is "do not be afraid." Wonderful. To me, this is one of the most blessed realities of this day. We do not ever have to be afraid. And even better, "Far and away the most frequent commandment in the Bible is what the angel says to the women, and what Jesus then repeats: 'Don't be afraid.'...It's going to be alright. Easter proves it." The most frequent commandment? This does my worry-filled life good!
The second command is "come and see." The angel invited the women this way and we've got the same invite. "The path ahead of you may look misty but as you start to walk on it you'll find it's rock solid. Come and see for yourself what it means to live on the basis that two thousand years ago something happened by which death itself was defeated, that God's power was unleashed in accordance with the great stories and promises of scripture, that new creation began with a bang and that nothing has been the same since."
Here also is the stunning observation that "the Easter invitation to come and see involves walking right past the sleeping guards." There was no human power that could keep Jesus from rising! "And the guards, symbolizing here the political and military powers for whom they are working, are struck dumb...The powers of the world [are] lying helpless on the ground."
And the third command is "go and tell." Wrights reflects, "At the heart of the mystery of God's new creation is the strange truth that it happens, it spreads, when people tell others about it...God's new creation happens when people tell others that Jesus has been raised from the dead. God wants new creation to happen through his renewed people, because new creation is all about trust, all about new relationships, all about love. It isn't as though the new creation were a great machine rumbling into action. It is precisely a new creation, and as with the first creation we humans are called to play an active role within its developing life. Go and tell and watch it happen!"
This comes with a word of warning and encouragement: "Ah, you may say, all that 'telling' business, that's for the professionals. Not true. Notice who are the first, the very first, to be told to go and tell. Not the big strong leaders. Not Peter and the twelve. They are away, hiding, afraid. It is the unlikely people, the women - in that culture, the insignificant and untrustworthy ones! - who are given the ultimate trust, who are the first to see and hear and touch the risen Jesus. He repeats the angel's command: don't be afraid, go and tell...Two or three frightened women won't convince anyone by their own persuasiveness. The message will do its work through them. Go and tell! If they can, you can."