Grace and Peace to you.
In the woods this morning it was balmy. Snow has melted into pools lying in the low places. New birdsongs are strung like bunting among the trees. I saw one little shrub with the first tiny green leaves of spring. A couple of crocuses and daffodils are up. It’s enough to get you thinking about resurrection. Except that flowers, lovely as they are, don’t comprehend the whole mystery. For that I need Holy Week.
In Holy Week we hear a story that we want to suppress but is always lurking in our hearts. We participate in a feast of forgiveness that we desperately need, and we are drawn into a community of love that is created in the midst of our worst brokenness and our darkest sorrow. We are invited to enter the suffering of the world. We experience the mystery that in our loneliness and agony we are accompanied; in our sorrow we are blessed; in our sin we are forgiven; in our messed up lives we are changed; in our death we are given new life.
Easter is not merely about the cycle of life and the return of greenery after its hibernation through winter. It’s about God’s radical transformation of us and our lives, about how when we surrender to God’s grace, we are changed into new people. When we give ourselves in love, God gives us new life. Resurrection is no mere happy ending, a return of life that was there all along but hiding: it’s about a beginning, about new life, life out of actual total death, life that really wasn’t there before at all. In Holy Week we experience the love that saves us from our fear and liberates us into a new life.
To prepare for Easter it’s OK to do the candy and Easter Bunnies and the bright flowers. But don’t forget the whole mystery: that God has met us at our worst, confronted our willingness to murder and exploit and cause suffering, our deep complicity in evil, injustice and oppression; and God has overthrown the power of our evil, forgiven us, and raised us up to a new way of living. Walk in the woods with the flowers. But don’t neglect to walk the Via Dolorosa with Jesus.
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