The women from 9East were a glum bunch on Thursday. One of the six had been at the Easter service the week before; the other five were new. Gina is four and a half months pregnant with twins. "The kids are sitting on my ribcage," she said, her face twisted into a grimace. Teresa pondered her fingernails. She's getting out this weekend and one of her first stops will be the nail salon to replace the two fingernails that have gone missing.
We sang, "He's got the whole world in his hands" with not much enthusiasm. The final verse, "He's got the King County Jail in his hands," got a guffaw. I asked, "Did that last verse surprise you?" "Hell ya. Why would God spend any time here?"
We finally resorted to "Amazing Grace" because almost everyone knew that one. By the fifth verse, "When we've been there 10 thousand years," the voices had trailed off.
Time for the readings. No one wanted to volunteer. "I only have one contact in." "I don't know how to read." "Don't ask me." Somehow we managed to make it through that incident in John's gospel where Jesus shows up in a locked room. The women didn't look impressed.
I had a strong feeling that we were all staring at this:
Just an empty tomb. Now what?
So we talked about that. What's it like to be staring into darkness? What if this isn't good news? Is it okay to just sit here for a while? It is. Sitting with the grief and bewilderment and the anger and resentment is a part of the deal. Resurrection isn't always pretty. And maybe there are fifty days of the season so we have time to catch up with the mystery of it all.
At the end of the service, the women were still quiet. They thanked us for coming, but they weren't all cheered up. I'm glad they weren't. This was a more authentic reflection of their hearts at the moment. Better authenticity than plastered on cheer any day.
Here's something else to ponder: What's wrong with this picture? at least according to John's gospel?