Thomas Edison is remembered most for his invention of the electric light bulb, but not everyone was impressed at the time. One engineer called such a notion, “an absolute ignis fatuus,” which I’m told translates roughly as, “a fairy tale,” a “flight of fancy.”
In 1943, Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, stated, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
In 1901, just two years before the Wright brothers logged their first successful flight, Wilbur Wright himself suggested flight would not be possible for at least another 50 years.
You might be surprised by how many things we now take for granted were once thought to be idle tales. The same could be said of Easter. Though the gospels suggest Jesus was certain there would be life after death, and resurrection after crucifixion, even his closest followers were startled when his predictions came true. Luke tells us the women made their way to the graveyard on the first day of the week with spices in hand, ready to tend the body of Jesus just as they would any other dead body.
The discovery of the empty tomb, and the suggestion that these women need not look for life in death-filled places, is met with disbelief by the others. Luke 24:11 says the men considered their report to be an “idle tale,” “an absolute ignis fatuus.” Peter had to stoop low enough to look into the tomb with his own eyes in order to believe.
Easter invites us to believe, too, that there’s more to life than tombs and graveyards, death and despair. This truth is easy to take for granted until life hands us a reason to check it out for ourselves. Why spend so much time surrounding ourselves with death, when there’s so much life to be lived? Among the many reasons we celebrate Easter,
I believe, is it gives us a language for hope. Whether we’re praying for physical healing, a way out of a bad relationship, a better world for our children and grandchildren, or justice for the oppressed – Easter gives us the words and the vision to believe something different is not only possible, but in God’s hands might even be probable.
May the Good News of Easter give us the words, the vision and the hope we all need in order to BELIEVE.
Your friend and fellow minister,
Pastor Kathryn Kuhn