Luke 24:24 “Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.”
Emptiness, what a dreaded word. Its original meaning was leisure, as in free of fear, but over hundreds of years, It has developed many negative connotations. We often use it to describe something that is lacking. “Who put the empty milk jug back in the fridge?” we often ask out loud. It is never good to have an empty bank account, refrigerator, or gas tank. We describe depression or despair as feeling empty inside, void of feeling and a chasm of doubt in life itself. We often describe a moment of tragedy and chaos as “staring into the abyss.”
Pointing to emptiness is rarely a good way to convince someone of an experience you have or an event that has taken place. “No seriously dude, it was right there, I’m telling you, right there, the biggest Moose you have ever seen,” as we gesticulate excitedly and point to a bog with no Moose present. “Did you see that shooting star!” we exclaim and as soon as we are able to point the light fades and we are pointing to what was there. We try to describe those serendipitous moments, where after a long internal struggle things finally fall into place and we see our lives in a new perspective; that moment where everything is right with light and beauty. “Right here is where it happened,” you thoughtfully say and motion to the park bench, the mountaintop, the river bank, the lake shore, the living room couch, the church pew, where it all came together, where you proposed, you saw the light, a ray of hope cut through the darkness, found peace, were struck by creativity, said goodbye to the past, or took that first step towards a new life. All you have to show for it is empty space. Significant empty space.
Here’s the thing with Easter, we really are celebrating emptiness. “Nothing” was the big surprise. We boldly claim that the tomb was empty and that nothingness was pregnant with everything we hope for, with life and resurrection, with hope and with God’s promises. “Right there, that’s where it happened,” the women of Easter morning showed the other disciples and they looked around and tried to understand and make sense out of an amazing moment. The emptiness is the turning point. It is the moment when hope is born and we rise up in resurrection. “I’m telling you, it happened right over there and I will never be the same.” That is the hope of Easter.