Preventing fake news was the goal of religious officials who went to Pilate the day after Jesus’s burial. They warned him that the imposter’s followers might steal his body and claim he’d risen from the dead. “The last deception would be worse than the first,” they said (Matt. 27:57-66).

Imagine we are they, religious elites under Roman rule, trying to keep the peace by placating a cruel governor. While Rome was generally tolerant of Jewish religion, it had expelled Jews from the imperial capital a dozen years before, perhaps because of political unrest. They crucified agitators in Jerusalem and left rotting corpses to terrify its people. Internalized oppression was undoubtedly a factor as the officials pleaded with Pilate to help keep Jesus’s outlandish story from becoming a triumphal narrative of liberation for their people.

The narrative of this scene that we do have, from Matthew, was set down a half-century or more later. By then Jews had indeed risen up against Rome and been driven from Jerusalem. A skeptic about Jesus’s bodily Resurrection would probably say that the exchange with Pilate was imagined later to bolster the young church’s bold narrative of endless possibility in a world that God had liberated from the power of death.

So for us, fake news, scandalous good news, or both? A rainy Holy Saturday is a good day to think about it. The right answer is the one in your heart. I use this day to imagine the nonexistence of God. Scientists say people conjured up God to solve certain problems. To explain how things came to be, to learn to be better and more accountable, and to have hope. So I ask myself if the modern world gives me what I need to accomplish all that without relying on the stories about the risen Christ. If someone could prove to me that it never happened, could I keep on? Or would Christianity be enough for me as a fellowship that continues to remember and celebrate the power of Jesus’s presence and teachings — understanding that at the same time, I would probably have to accept that there was no God beyond the sheer energy buzzing in creation (which is pretty amazing in and of itself).

I use the second day to think about all that. I number my miracles and synchronicities, like my daughter Lindsay saying it “It feels like Easter” one morning in August because I’d been praying and thinking of “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” while she was still asleep. I think about religious tyranny and the worse tyrants who repudiated religion. The church’s acquiescence in slavery and faith’s pivotal role in demolishing it. All the sins of the church and, I must say, the decency and love of unbelievers. The invocation of Providence in the founding of my country. And the testimony of Mary Magdalene and the other women at the tomb, a detail so firmly rooted in paschal memory that it’s in all four gospels. You know the men would’ve changed it if they could. But they couldn’t, because everyone knew. Everyone knew the women went there, and he was gone.

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

— Book of Common Prayer