Shakespeare’s comedies are near tragedies. The mix-ups and disguises, the twists of language, the intricate plot bring the audience to the brink of tragedy; however, something happens in the last act that changes course, and we receive that “happy-ever-after” feeling. The near tragedy becomes a comedy, often shown in an expression of community, such as a dance or actors staged in a circle.
The life of Jesus, too, was near tragedy. Everything pointed to crucifixion. On Good Friday tragedy prevailed, but Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He had the last laugh. Soldiers thought they had Jesus beaten? Ha-ha! The religious authorities thought Jesus was silenced? Ha-ha! Jerusalem would forget him? Ha-ha! Resurrection transforms the tragic ending into a comic beginning—like the Shakespearean comedy that ends in community. Now the Risen Christ is identified with all God’s People, and all God’s People are part of the Body of Christ. We, the community of Jesus Christ, have the last laugh.
For this reason we carve jack-o-lanterns, symbols of the last laugh. Their smiling faces seem to say, “Death, you can’t scare me. I’m going to rise with Jesus Christ! Graveyards, you’re not scary. I’m going to rise with Jesus Christ! Skeletons, that’s not me. I’m in heaven!” As you see jack-o-lanterns this week, let them remind you of resurrection and community in Christ.