Sometimes people find talk of “grieving” offensive. If you’re someone who’s coming to terms with the death of a loved one, then a friend who speaks of their “grief” as they leave one job to take up another will be irritating at best. And that’s fair enough, because not all grief is created equal.
And yet there does seem to be a common factor in the different kinds of grief, whether it’s caused by divorce, the failure of a leader you trusted, or simply the kids growing up and moving out. Psychologists seem to be on to something when they say grief flows from our attachment to people and things. Some philosophers then argue that the key to life is learning how not to get attached to things and people. But what kind of human has no attachments, nothing they value, nothing they expect from the world?
I reckon the Easter story validates the griefs we experience. And it provides real comfort and hope.
Jesus didn’t go to his death with a stoic “it happens to us all” attitude. The Bible tells us that the night before his death, knowing what was coming, he told his followers “my heart is deeply grieved, to the point of death”. As he hung on the cross, he cried out to God in desperation (as many of us do): “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” There is no “stiff upper lip” for the hero of the Christian faith.
What’s more, the momentous event of Easter Sunday suggests our attachment to people and things is fair enough. When Jesus rose from the dead, he didn’t take on some “spiritual” form that was free from the “distractions” of flesh and blood, food and family. No, God raised Jesus in his physical body and he went on to walk around, eat meals and talk with his friends. By raising Jesus in the body, God confirmed that the world he’s made is good, and that we’re right to value people, bodies, good health and good relationships (and to grieve when we lose them).
At All Saints, we’re convinced that Jesus’ death and resurrection are the events that provide ultimate comfort in this messy world. This Easter we’ll be celebrating the solid hope that Jesus offers – a future when all grief is gone. If you’re in need of some good news, or just curious about how people can still take this stuff seriously, we’d love you to come and visit our church on Good Friday, Easter Sunday or any time through the year.