A friend, who had a long career in print media, taught me the phrase, “nine-day news.”
It refers to the stories that make the front page; a scandal or an accident, or a promise from some political party. It starts on the front page, and for about nine days moves through the paper to find itself on the back page by the end of the week, to eventually be forgotten. It is a welcome thought to those who are at the centre of the story, and not appreciating the attention.
By the time the week is up, the public will have moved on to something else. They may not forget the story, but the interest is not sufficient to sell papers anymore. Yet, those who are most affected by the incident hold the story much longer. If it was important enough to make the news, chances are it had an even bigger impact on those involved.
This time last week we were thinking about the upper room, the last supper, the night of betrayal and, before long, the story expands to include an execution. Fear takes hold of those who are closest to Jesus. The news of the resurrection is startlingly strange even to those in the inner circle. He might have alluded to the fact that something like this might happen, but who could have believed it?
Mary runs from the tomb witnessing something that completely changes her outlook. Somehow, her beloved teacher is strangely close to her once more. She is cautioned to not cling to the past, and shares the most amazing story. The story is bold enough to send the followers into a locked room, still so gripped by fear. And they too have an experience that alters their understanding of the events of the past week.
Thanks goodness for Thomas. He knows what he’s seen and understands that death is irreversible. The story would be incomplete without him. Thomas is there for all of us who have not taken at face value the story of another, holding out for our own experience. And yet, Thomas is open to possibilities, and once given his own resurrection story, proclaims his newfound faith on the spot. The execution story is nothing compared to the joy found in new life.
Perhaps that is the point. New life has little to do with the past. It is not recovering the way things were, but opening the door to the possibility that lies ahead. That Jesus is able to be with those followers in a new way continues to give hope to those things that could not be silenced by his death.
The nine-day news of trauma and fear is nothing compared to the incredible openness to a new way to know his presence. Love and compassion, healing and hope are impossible to kill. That is the story of Easter that leads to another new day, another group of witnesses, an experience beyond the Easter bunny into the promise of life after what seemed like the darkest day.
Surely we have never been in greater need of that kind of hope and possibility. May it live on in our witnessing and a kind of transformative faith for today.
Rev. Donna Tourneur lives and works with the people of Trinity United Church, New Glasgow.