image courtesy – Caeleigh Cortez
Easter time is a joyous time of year for most Christians. During this time, we take special attempts to meaningfully relate to Christ’s last week, and His death, burial, and resurrection. Many Christians attempt to establish a better understanding of the Christian life, and practice meaningful acts to bolster their faith as Easter approaches through Lent. Lent starts this holy season which culminates with Holy Week, Good Friday, Vigil, and Easter. Conversely, many faiths are proud of pointing out that they do not recognize Easter for various reasons. However, I discovered a special affinity for Easter; it has positively influenced my spiritual walk.
I’m overjoyed that so many local pastors and church communities have worked overtime to accomodate their parishioners by having online meetings, or even meetings in cars. Those churches who do so, in many cases, are reaching larger audiences than they did with their normal congregation. Easter will be an especially difficult time for so many people normally accustomed to flocking to churches to hear the Good News of a risen Savior. There is something so attractive about the resurrection story that draws people to those who proclaim the Good News of salvation! Conversely, I’m saddened by hearing of churches who insist on having services that ignore the public lockdown advice of the health authorities. Maybe this will be the new battle front in the church/state battle.
However, I’m positive much good will come out of churches adjusting to safe and sane ways of reaching their parishioners: it’s a teachable moment. We should be careful to continue to support our churches by giving, as their expenses do not cease due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many have converted to online giving portals which make giving so easy.I wish each of you a Happy Easter and a wonderful Easter Week.
At Easter time, I love to perennially share the beautiful N.T. Wright quote from his book “Surprised by Hope” for it inspires a true re-examination of the way we celebrate Easter.
“Easter week itself ought not to be the time when all the clergy sigh with relief and go on holiday,” Wright says, “It ought to be an eight-day festival, with champagne served after morning prayer or even before, with lots of alleluias and extra hymns and spectacular anthems. Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don’t throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to live the resurrection if we don’t do it exuberantly in our liturgies? Is it any wonder the world doesn’t take much notice if Easter is celebrated as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting and gloom?”
Finally, I choose to close my Easter posts with a poem by theologian Walter Brueggemann. This is taken from his Abingdon Press book of poetry, “Prayers for a Privileged People”. It is especially fitting as it brings to mind the life and death horrors of our pandemic.
Easter in the Very Belly of Nothingness‘
Death will be all right for when it comes.
But dying is another matter–
Death will be a quick turn,
the winking of an eye
but dying turns and twists and waits and teases.
We have not died,
but we know about dying:
We watch the inching pain of cancer,
the oozing ache of alienation,
the tears of stored-up hurt.
We can smell the dying
of bombs and shells
of direct hit and collateral damage
of napalm spread thin and even of cities turned craters
of Agent Orange that waits years to show,
and lives turned to empty stare.
We watch close or distant;
we brace and stiffen
and grow cynical or uncaring.
And death wins–
we, robbed of vitality, brought low by failed hope,
We keep going, but barely;
we gather at the grave,
watching the sting and
the victory of dread.
But you stir late Saturday;
we gather early Sunday with balm and embalming,
close to the body,
waiting for the smell but not;
dreading the withered site…but not;
cringing before love lost…but not here.
Not here…but risen,
The new creation stirs beyone the weeping women;
O death…no sting!
O grave…no victory!
O silence…new song!
O dread…new dance!
O tribulation…now overcome!
O Friday God—Easter the failed city,
Sunday the killing fields.
And we, we shall dance and sing,
thank and praise,
into the night that holds no more darkness.
Happy Easter dear readers!