Easter as Eucatastrophe
Updated: May 4
Written By Lawrence Yoo
As most of you guys know, I’m a sucker for an epic adventure. I love dragons, battles, and mythical places, but my favorite moment is what J. R. R. Tokien calls the eucatastrophe or “good catastrophe.” Tolkien says this is when all seems lost and hopeless and then something or someone steps in and causes a “sudden joyous turn, not an ending, but the moment when we get a glimpse of joy” and we are given a “gleam of revelation from outside the narrative.” In that moment we don’t gain full resolution but hope in a bigger story at play.
This idea plays out in Tolkien’s novel The Two Towers (the second in the Lord of the Rings Triology) when the great wizard Gandalf, who was presumed to be dead, unexpectedly shows up stronger than before and gives the members of the fellowship hope for the battle ahead. In
C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, eucatastrophe happens when the Pevensie children see Father Christmas and they are aware that the White Witch’s power is waning. In most marvel movies it occurs when superheroes choose to work together.
One way to understand Easter is through the lens of Eucatastrophe. If you have grown up in the church or been around it for a while, you have probably heard the Easter story countless times and you’ve celebrated it at least once a year, but I wonder if we really live in the reality of Easter. Do we see the crucifixion and the resurrection as catastrophe turned backwards? Do we realize that even in the darkest of moments, we can have hope? Because of what Christ did on the cross, we can have redemption and our shame does not define us.
In eucatastrophe the plot isn’t over, the culmination hasn’t happened. The ring hasn’t been destroyed. The witch has not been defeated. The infinity stone hasn’t been snapped back. The end of this age and the dawn of the new heavens and the new earth is still to come. Yet, Easter gives hope to not give up. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection a new kingdom was inaugurated, our sins were forgiven, and our future is secure. May Easter give us the hope and energy we need to face our battles. May that hope give us strength in our darkest days whether we face illness, joblessness, unmet expectations, broken relationships, loss, or death. I’m not saying those things won’t wreck us and we won’t need to grieve, but those things don’t hold the end of the story. Dawn will come, everything sad will become untrue. There is a new reality.