Easter Sunday April 1, 2018 – Easter People
What a wonderful Easter celebration! We had somewhere between 250 and 300 people of all ages (from 4 months to 97 years) attend our Sunday service, which was bright with flowers and alive with music. Once again, I’d like to thank everyone who worked to make this busy weekend possible, including everyone in the choir who offered musical leadership on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, after a choir practice Thursday! There were so many people whose time, efforts, and energy made this weekend meaningful.
On Sunday, I talked about our human tendency to focus on what is missing, on what is going wrong rather than what is going right, and what is actually there. In the Easter story, the resurrection hope is represented by an empty tomb. It takes a long time for Mary of Magdala, and Peter and the other disciple, to notice anything besides the absence, what seems to be missing. Peter and the other disciple leave without really understanding what is happening, while Mary not only needs to see Jesus but also to hear him speak her name before she can move past her grief and her assumptions about what is happening and actually recognize Jesus standing in front of her. Each of the gospel writers tells a different version of this story, but for each the process of figuring out what is happening takes time.
It’s not easy for us to see the good that seems to lie hidden beneath the bare earth like a seed that has not yet begun to sprout. We can become so caught up in our grief, in our busyness, in our fear, that we miss paying attention to the hope, the good news that exists already. Often this is true as individuals, and it is certainly true as a society. It is part of the reason that despite falling crime rates, we continue to have news stories filled with crime. Despite lower rates of child abductions, our children are increasingly encouraged to fear being with strangers and not taught independence. It is the reason we are disproportionately affected by people acting inconsiderately on the roads or on transit, because those who follow the rules, who act kindly, who take part in small acts of generosity are taken for granted, not worth noticing.
If you are scanning a typical newspaper or news site, you might find it hard to find a story of good news. There are actually a few websites or organizations specifically created to address this imbalance, by sharing good news stories from around the world. They might help us hear what else is already happening, so that our own perception of the world is not imbalanced.
Easter is not about ignoring the absences that exist in our lives – the losses, the suffering, the uncertainty… but it is about saying that these absences are not the final word. God’s love is present in the midst of these seeming absences. Hope and new life are breaking forth in unexpected places. As “Easter people” we have the task of paying attention to all of life, and nurturing the seeds of possibility that are already taking root.
Blessings, Rev. Emily Gordon