Some people can be prone to exaggeration so we can tend to treat with suspicion anything they tell us, at least until someone else can verify the story. I have to confess I’m known to embellish the facts now and again to make a story more interesting or simply to add petrol to the flames if I’m slagging someone. Our past experiences of people often condition how we listen and accept what they relate to us as real events and dramas. How we view the person telling the story affects the creditability we attach to what is being told. If the person is known to be excessive in descriptions and uses literary licence when recounting what loosely could be termed ‘facts’ then we treat with a pinch of salt anything that comes out of their mouth. However, if the person is held in high esteem and experience teaches us of their reliable manner and the honesty of their views then we tend to treat them with more trust and creditability.
Yet on both accounts there is always the exception, and life if anything teaches us to be open to surprises, expect the unexpected. Generally, if you get a name for rising early you can lie to midday. We love labels and if we can pigeonhole someone, it makes our view of life a lot simpler and more black and white. I remember being seven or eight and on a trip to my grandparents. I listened with fascination as my father complained to anyone who would listen how he had lost a tenner. It was during the early ‘80s and with a young family it wasn’t an amount to be laughed at. Doing my best primary three sums I worked out how I could have bought one hundred Chomp Bars or packets of Frosties, not to mention one hundred ten pence mixes with the money. Even better, I could have splashed out on two hundred packets of Meanies Crisps or Cowan’s Toffee Bars. I didn’t try to work out how many two pence chews or sweets I could have purchased because maths was never my strong point and my English was worser!
Low and behold two days later I was playing in the front garden at home and like manna from heaven I found amongst the leaves and clay a £10 note. I was very religious in those days and as I thanked God for my discovery, I was overcome by his generosity. Although I wasn’t going to be greedy because after I had gone and bought one pound’s worth of sweets I was going to tell my father I found a fiver and four one pound notes neatly bundled together under the hedge in the front garden. I was sure my father would have been delighted at this stroke of fortune, how, three or four days after losing a £10 note I had found £9, very coincidently in a spot not far from his own misfortunate.
Admiring my own genius I wasn’t happy with just any old story I needed a back-up plan. I could say someone found his tenner and needing a pound they left change. Delighted I ran off to tell my friend my stroke of luck and got him swear by the story. This was my second, if not third mistake.
If I was looking to become a career criminal I should have picked an accomplice who would have stood up stronger under cross examination and interrogation. Anyway, we ran off to the mobile shop which meant we had to cross the road which I wasn’t allowed to do without permission, but at this stage it was a case of in a for a penny in for a pound, quite literally. So I brought one pound worth of sweets, gave my friend ten and kept the other ninety which I smuggled into the house and then hid in the one place my parents would never think of looking - under my bed. In hindsight if I had given my friend thirty or thirty five sweets he might have put up a better show when my father questioned him. Needless to say the story I had concocted even though it was brilliant in its inception wasn’t believed. Regardless, I crumbled as well under pressure when asked what I had done with the missing one pound. I could have played tough but I didn’t like the notion of being grounded, even with a hidden bag of sweets.
The creditability of the Easter story is built not only on the testimony of the apostles and early disciples; ultimately our faith in the Resurrection is grounded on Jesus himself. The witness of the scriptures and the four gospels in particular, highlight the initial confusion, fear and dismay which met the empty tomb.
On Easter Sunday morning the journey of faith is only beginning because the empty tomb is only a fragment of the story. In the panic and anxiety the disciples wonder and question what has happened to the body of Jesus. The fact Jesus’ expensive burial clothes are left in the tomb discounts the notion of grave robbers or any other group steeling the body of Jesus. As the scene emerges from the dawning darkness to the light of Easter morning we’re asked to make a similar journey moving from the darkness of unbelief to the light of the true faith in the Risen Christ. Whilst some saw and believed, others could not quite comprehend what had happened.
We have a choice, we can understand Jesus’ death on Good Friday as the end of the story or we can dare to believe all our lives have been transformed forever because Jesus had risen from the dead on Easter Sunday. No-one witnesses the Resurrection it’s an event between Jesus and his Father alone. So how do we move from the empty to tomb to faith in the Risen Christ? Like Mary in the garden we have to encounter the Risen Christ in person and hear him announce our name. We pray for the strength to be credible witnesses, to have the courage to speak the truth in love.