Greetings to all as we awaken to an Easter morning unlike any we have known before. Ash Wednesday, which was on February 26 this year, seems long ago, and from another time altogether. Anyone who asked “what will you give up for Lent?” could never have imagined what we have collectively let go of and gone without over these past several weeks; we follow the news but we can’t take it all in, it’s too much to imagine, too much to take in. Lent this year, in its 40 days, profoundly echoes the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, the 40 years the Israelites spent in the wilderness.
Wilderness can be beautiful, for anyone who has gone for a long walk in the woods; wilderness, we also know, can be profoundly disorienting: where does this trail go? Where will we all end up? To be lost, to ask anxious questions, to feel abandoned, to wonder about the way – all part of the experience of being a believer, in this or any time. Thomas the Apostle, who asks Jesus “how can we know the way?” (John 14: 5). It’s a question that admits of profound disorientation, as Thomas tries to make sense of where Jesus is going, to Jerusalem, to the cross.
The stories we tell each other about what it means to be Christian do not shy away from the difficult and uncertain moments of life; in fact, these stories place us there: in the boat on the Sea of Galilee as the waves rise, in the garden as Jesus prays that this cup may pass, in the stories of saints who describe how, in their prayer, they often experienced a sense of the absence of God. It’s all there, the searching questions that ask “where is our God in the middle of all this?”
And Easter arrives, its sense of soft colors, of a rising sun, and of Mary of Magdala and her early morning arrival at a tomb and her expectation to – what? Pray, weep, mourn, remember what once was? A tomb itself is a dark place, enclosed, the end of a life as known. And her early, tentative understanding of resurrection: resurrection not as a happy memory, or “isn’t it nice that we had such good times together,” but as something profoundly new and even strange, something present and real, something she needed some time to understand. Resurrection as: God the Father, creator of all things, even in a moment as dark as the cross (and not only the cross of Jesus, but all the crosses, all the burdens, of all people of all times), raises up life, continues to create, continues to look for something new and good and lifegiving, even when death, and endings, seem to be the story of the day. And, so often in the gospel stories, we hear that these early disciples “did not yet understand.” Sometimes it feels that way.
Happy Easter to all in these strange and emerging days, and many thanks to all who have continued to support our parish by tuning into our live-steams, and by your ongoing financial contributions. We are grateful!
Blessings on your week!