Dear Parish Family,
Think back on the first Easter you can remember. You will need this so stick with me and try. Most likely, you were a child and that Easter was a swirl of the cultural trappings of chocolate and bunnies matched up against the ultimate, glorious, and eternal victory of the Lord of the universe. At least that is how it was for me.
There are specific paintings and drawings I recall that were in my earliest holy books and a fresco that crossed the entire ceiling above the chancel of the Roman Catholic church I attended. I can still see in my mind’s eye both drawn and painted scenes of Jesus gloriously shining and postured in triumph as His followers bowed down in reverence and worship.
There was a wide-eyed wonder in my heart and head because I really and truly believed in Jesus, not only as my Savior, but also as the ultimate hero above all the childhood heroes I ever had. That put him miles above Mighty Mouse, Superman, The Lone Ranger, The Rifleman, and Mickey Mantle – just to name a few. I was a child and I was merely being childlike and not childish. Today Jesus is still my ultimate hero, I still see him in those heroic postures, and I still hoist him above every hero I’ve ever had. And I’m still being merely childlike and not childish. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus says that we are to remember our first keen love for Him when we hold Him in our hearts, rather than harboring lukewarm, adulterated, take it for granted thoughts of Him. Some of our purest, dearest, and loftiest enthusiastic feelings for God came when we were trusting kids.
This is an Easter unlike any most of us have ever known. No church building, no gatherings, and probably few, if any, of the well-ingrained traditions we have clung to most of our lives. Yet, it is perhaps evermore Easter this time around because we are likely to be with Him more nearly and dearly, absent so many usual distractions. We embrace the Resurrection more preciously this year, as it specially raises our hope, eternal gratitude, and the genuine celebration of our hearts. We walk into Easter this time around open handed, humble, and with simplicity, much as we did as children. An old Shaker hymn says it better, “Tis the gift to be simple tis the gift to be free. Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be.”
Resurrection life in Christ is a here-and-now reality the same as it will be a there-and-then reality when we die. Some among our beloved parish faithful have lost dear family members in the days, weeks, and months leading up to Easter. I am praying hard for each one who hurts. What can we witness to them? To trust and believe as children do. That our Lord’s bursting from the tomb was not to save Himself, but a divine gift of grace to care for us all. That we and our deceased loved ones can shine in the glory of His majesty and love, both in our grief and in our own deaths to come. There is something for everyone else, too. It is that the One who did all this for us can more easily carry us through pandemics, financial peril, unemployment, relational crises, addictions, and the shame, guilt, and damage of our worst sins. The Savior who overcame death can, even more assuredly, overcome all that afflicts us here and now. I believe this with everything that is innocent and pure in my heart.
Children want the family to be together and get excited, eager, and yearning when they anticipate the next gathering. I confess that my own youthful heart longs for our next All Saints family gathering, and indeed we will be together again soon. Much more, because of Jesus and His resurrection, we will be together forever! Now there is a reason to rejoice even in difficulty. There is a reason to celebrate with childlike wonder, perhaps more than any Easter before.
In praise of the Risen Lord,