The tomb is empty – and nothing has ever been the same since.
We live in the tension of victory of Jesus over death – but the reminders of our frailty, our sin and our grief.
The call to “rejoice always” that we see in Philippians is one that can feel impossible when we’re faced with the reality of our pain, but it wasn’t one that Paul made glibly. He wrote imprisoned from a Roman jail – he knew discomfort and struggle – and yet he implores the Philippians (and us) to rejoice.
He doesn’t tell us to put on a brave face, to pretend that everything is okay; but to allow ourselves to be filled with the love of God and live from the knowledge of our belovedness.
We aren’t being told to rejoice in our pain or because of it – rather we are implored to rejoice through it – to keep praising God even when it’s the last thing we feel like doing, because remaining connected to him is the only way we can experience real and lasting joy.
Lament does not stand in opposition to joy – very often it can be the thing that enables joy.
And in the words of Poet Mary Oliver “joy is not made to be a crumb” – it is made to be abundant and shared.
A blessing allows joy and hope to be shared; where once they were conferred only through families, we are free to share our blessings with one another.
Author John O’Donohue writes that “the language of blessing is invocation: a calling forth” – as the spring sunshine coaxes the buds to bloom, so blessings encourage us to offer our belovedness to one another.
A blessing is the language of ‘yet’ – which hopes against hope that in the darkness around us light will come – that new life will bloom from what seems dead and everlasting life has come to us not through our struggle for perfection, but Jesus’ sacrifice of grace that leads us home.