Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Really? What about this year?
It was Holy Saturday, that in-between day. The day before, which was Good Friday, was the day of horror and the following day, Resurrection Day, would be a complete reversal. I spent Holy Saturday wondering, what is the message that needs to be spoken this Easter and would that message stir my soul? I certainly did not expect that it would, in the blink of an eye, end the Covid-19 pandemic. I wouldn’t be “going to” church like I did last year, and I wouldn’t be serving dinner to others at my own little table. There would be no live big music and no big table communion. My beloved Community of Faith would not be standing shoulder to shoulder in the same place. Sigh.
So, I took my wonderings out to wander. As I walked the path outside my apartment, a Spirited reminder of the power of Easter rang through the trees, the shorebirds, the river and my soul, the reminder that the message this year, amid this crisis, is every bit what it has been since Mary’s experience by the tomb of Jesus. The message is that Christ is risen. The God of life has had the last word!
At that moment of soul-stirring awakening, I lifted my eyes off the dirt path and realized that I was seeing my neighbours in a different way. My neighbours, the ones whom I see on the path every day, I imagine to be people who have come from all around the world. Yes of course, some born right here too. Some have shared with me that they have come originally from the Middle East, South Asia, Romania, Britain, China, Japan and Korea. There are young ones, old ones and some of us who are of “a certain age now”. Though we don’t know each other’s names, we know we are neighbours and we greet one another knowingly.
That day I found myself wondering mostly about their faith practises and rituals. In doing so I realized that the question given to me to contemplate was not “what is the Easter message this year?” but rather “As I share the Easter message, what will be heard?” How will it be experienced? How am I being called to tell the story this year? How am I to live it this year?
The story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is a story of power both holy and human. I saw in the diversity of my neighbours reflections of the history of the life-giving power of the resurrection story and also the reflections of the history of terror that too often has been unleashed in the name of Jesus and still is.
Our Muslim neighbours are approaching Ramadan. Our Sikh neighbours are living their holy days. Our Jewish neighbours are celebrating Passover. People of faith everywhere are sharing the stories of faith that give them life. As we tell the Resurrection story this year, will our re-telling give life?
On Sunday I heard Rabbi Jose Rolando Matalon from Manhattan tell the story of Passover from his perspective. He said, “Right before our ancestors fled Egypt, families and neighbours came together in the dark at night to share the sacrificial Paschal lamb. They all came out of their isolation and self-centeredness and they experienced the power of loving community…For all of us, Jewish or not, there is an important call here…to do whatever we can to see that healing and liberation will come to us soon. And when we are liberated, when we return to the streets, to our workplaces and to one another, I pray it be with a new awareness and appreciation for just how extraordinary normal life is, with greater appreciation for the blessing of our extended families, our friends and our neighbours…” CBS Sunday Morning, April 12, 2020
Rabbi Matalon tells his life-giving story of faith. We are to tell our Resurrection story in ways that lift up life. To my neighbours I say, this is my commitment. I will not perpetuate the abuses of our story and, when I hear those abuses spoken and used, I will call them out and name them. Like Rabbi Matalon said, “there is an important call here…to do whatever we can to see that healing and liberation will come to us soon.” To ALL of us.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! This is our Easter declaration of faith. May it be shared with humble exuberance so that it may be received as the blessing it is intended to be.
Bless you neighbours!