Living as Easter people

Posted by Victoria Mason on May 2, 2023

Lent Series

Drawing on the reflections of Rev. René August, Victoria Mason explores how we can live as people of hope in the light of Easter – even when we don’t have all the answers.

Unanswered questions

Easter Sunday may feel a little while ago now, but the challenge to live as ‘Easter people’ remains. As Christians, we continue to walk with those first disciples, trying to make sense of the seismic shift from the pain of the crucifixion on Good Friday to the joy of Resurrection Sunday. The contrast is so stark – and the implications are so huge – that sometimes we need time to catch up. Time to process what it really means to live in the light of Easter.

This is the situation in which we find the disciples in the story of the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). The crucifixion of Jesus has happened, leaving Jesus’ followers bereft and directionless. In most translations, the disciples are described as ‘downcast’ – in one, ‘a picture of gloom’. They are discussing ‘everything that had happened’ when Jesus comes among them.

In this short film, the South African priest and theologian René August explores the power of curiosity in this story:

Re-igniting our curiosity

What René highlights so powerfully is the way Jesus brings hope both through his physical presence and by re-igniting the disciples’ curiosity about what God is doing.

In ‘joining the dots’ of Scripture, we discover that Good Friday, as well as Resurrection Sunday, is hope-filled. The cross is not a failure but rather the picture of the God who comes among us and loves us to such an extent that he suffers and dies for us. And it is this God – who chooses to be present and make himself vulnerable – who makes all things new and promises the triumph of love and life over hate and death.

And to live in the light of this hope is not to have all the answers but to begin asking new questions. We become curious about how we are part of this story. A challenge for me is to continue practising this curiosity with God, over the weeks, months and years. It isn’t a one-off question. We are ‘followers’, implying the onward movement of a journey. If God is on the move, I need to keep asking: ‘how is God calling me to be part of this story?’, as each new chapter unfolds. I need to keep on wondering how I might follow Jesus into the places where he is already at work, healing what is broken, embodying a different story from the one of division and fracture which so often surrounds us.

Embodying a curious hope

In this story of the road to Emmaus, I also see a simple, yet powerful, way that I might begin to answer that question – to put hope into practice.

In the midst of his friends’ hurt and confusion, Jesus comes alongside them and asks a question. The theologian Tom Wright suggests that the two disciples were not just discussing the events of Good Friday but in fact ‘arguing with each other’. In the intensity of their discussions, Jesus opens up a space for them to express their pain and questions, to tell their story.

I wonder if this space enabled the disciples to step back, to begin to open themselves – ever so slightly – to new, more hopeful, possibilities. Sometimes I think that being a Christian should mean I have the right ‘answer’ to every situation that arises. By instinct, I like to go in and ‘fix’ things wherever I can. But what I read in this story of the journey to Emmaus is a challenge and a reassurance. Sometimes, simply by asking a question and opening up honest space for those in conflict and pain, we can follow the resurrected Jesus and enable hope to take root.

Victoria Mason is Editorial Manager and Theological Lead for the Difference team.

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