There are so many Easter stories and each one in the Bible is a little different. In every gospel, the women are the protagonists and when they go to the tomb they find angels in white After that, all bets are off. Matthew’s version starts with an earthquake. In Mark, the women don’t tell anyone what they’ve seen. In Luke, they report their findings but the other disciples don’t believe them. John's version is like the Keystone Cops with several disciples running to the tomb to see for themselves. Later, Thomas doesn’t believe Jesus is alive until he touches his wounds. Peter sees Christ across the Sea of Galilee. Other unnamed disciples find him on the road to Emmaus but don’t know its really HIM until he joins them for a meal, then disappears.
It’s a heck of a way to start a religion. Don’t you think the Bible should get the story straight? Wouldn’t it all be more convincing if there was one version that was accepted, a standard account? No wonder we have so much debate and doubt. How are we supposed to know what the real version is, or what really happened? It makes you wonder what is going on. If you wanted to start a totalitarian state then you would need one version of your founding story. But, standard versions of things are highly over-rated. They are the stuff of propaganda, not faith.
I wonder if the Bible never intended to present one version. I don’t think it is trying to make the resurrection confusing, but to foster a conversation, a conversation in us and among our communities. I think the Bible is telling us that resurrection is too important to be contained in one simple version. Like the story of life things are complex and complicated. Wehy? Because we all experience resurrection differently. Just like we are all created in unique and different ways, so we find faith in different ways, at different times.
Diana Butler Bass writes convincingly about this in her latest blog. “The resurrection is not one thing. It is a prismatic mystery. It is an … experience of the beyond breaking in, the reality of love and life and justice and joy no matter the power of death. One story, a single angle of vision, can’t begin to explain or communicate it.” I think she is right.
Sometimes I sense Jesus' presence when I gaze across a body of water and realize we are not alone in that place. Sometimes I feel Christ is alive exactly when everything is a jumble and there’s an earthquake in my life. Sometimes nagging doubts bring me to my knees and then I encounter an answer that helps me feel Jesus is standing nearby. Sometimes Christ seems to join us at our table when we bow our heads to thank God for the food or break bread with friends how have become family. I don’t know why it is all true, but I know it is.
Those people who need to know for sure, exactly what happened on Easter morning and after, are missing the point. They are spending too much time trying to “figure it out” literally, and not enough time enjoying the truth that God in Christ is loose in the world. Nothing can contain Christ and He's hoping to surprise us here, there and everywhere.