Year A, Easter Sunday
Some might wonder, how can I say this in the midst of our terrible current public health difficulties and the deep disruption that has affected us all?
Many of us have lost employment and income; others continue to work, but at great risk to themselves and their families.
Many are experiencing hunger, loneliness, or even homelessness; others are overwhelmed by having to learn to do their job from home while also caring for cooped-up children.
Some of us know of those who have become ill, others are worried about at-risk family members. Invisible threats seem to lurk everywhere.
And indeed, many have died, usually alone, leaving others, also in isolation, to grieve alone.
But, here’s how I can say it: because on this day especially of all days of the year, we remember and celebrate that God is always and everywhere making old things new.
God is always changing others into brothers, transforming past miseries into future ministries, turning the terrible into the triumphant, and even bringing forth new, more glorious life from death.
That is the heart of our Easter story. Thank you Jesus!
For those of us with eyes to see it, we can perceive this divine transformative process taking place even in our current challenging situation.
We have discovered new fortitude within ourselves, maintaining ministries like Dinner for a Dollar, now in two places.
We are taking on long deferred tasks, such as learning to use technology and seeing opportunity in it.
We are exploring (if not yet mastering!) new ways to be together.
We are confirming and committing ourselves to the bonds that bind us together in community.
Yes, trouble has spawned creativity. Yes, God is making old things new at Grace and St Peter’s. Thank you Jesus!
In my own life, I have seen God’s Easter transformation in many ways, as I have been communicating and spending time with you all in new ways. I suddenly have no musical work, so I’ve been working on musical projects at home, sometimes with friends at a distance.
I’ve had time and opportunity to work on a musical birthday project for my nephew Miles.
I was able to attend, electronically, part of the very creative online Easter Vigil celebrated by Grace Pritchard Burson for her parish in my old home town of Montreal, something that would never have occurred to me before!
To take a another example: our wandering Good Friday service. It had been suggested a couple of years ago that our Good Friday worship might be taken out into the town of Hamden, but we had not made the effort to follow through on that idea. This year, our situation pushed us into creativity.
Reading scripture, praying, and singing, Allison Batson and I moved from place to place—a footbridge on the Farmington Canal trail, a physical therapy center ... Hamden Middle School, the Senior Center ... the Town Hall, a shopping strip, and the front steps of the church—and two moments stood out for me.
The first was the bridge at the beginning. When that bridge was constructed last year, I thought at first that the construction was de-struction, just another tree cutting rampage along the bike path. I was angry and sad. But in fact it was a beautiful new bridge that grew out this distressing process, and now many more people, including people with disabilities, can enjoy this wonderful trail.
And at the very end of our prayer walk, I stood on the church steps, with the big wooden cross right behind me, draped in black, to read the ending of the Passion story, and to sing “Were you there, when they laid him in the tomb?” And the photo software panned down towards the ground. Why not up towards the sky, I wondered? But then I saw the daffodils in our planting bed at the bottom of the screen. What better image for beautiful new growth rising from barrenness!
In both cases, what had seemed like trouble was really beauty about to be revealed. God was bringing forth something new that I could not at first see because sometimes (often? always?) the creative process looks like chaos, even death. After all, in order to bring forth new life, the old life has to fall away. Perhaps that is the reason that the first words spoken by both the angel in this morning’s gospel and Jesus to his disciples, are “Do not be afraid.”
As Jesus himself reminds us: unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
And so may our eyes be open, this Easter morning and always, to the many seeds of new life that are springing up all round about us. Even in the midst of our current challenges may we see and rejoice at the hyacinth, daffodils, and forsythia, and the cherry and magnolia trees, blooming in the fullness of God’s creative glory. May we give thanks for this inspired community of faith at Grace & St Peter’s, for the gifts and talents, the love and presence that we share. May we take comfort and delight in our families and friendships. May we rejoice that on this very morning, two thousand years ago and today, God raised Jesus Christ from the dead and, through him, brought all of us into ever renewing, glorious and everlasting life.
Thank you, Jesus! Amen.