Newsletter Column for May 2020
Dear Friends in Christ,
How do we live into the Season of Easter when it still feels like Lent? If it was one of the weirdest Holy Week’s ever, this may end up being the most awkward of Easter Seasons. Everything is supposed to feel different after Easter, because in the resurrection God has done something brand new. The economy may open back up a bit in the weeks and months to come, but we are not going back to the old normal. Everything has indeed changed, but the change includes death and isolation. The words of the disciples on the Emmaus Road may resonate with us in a new way during Easter Season 2020, “But we had hoped…” (Luke 24:21).
I often use the word hope at the end of funeral sermon. In my attempts to not gloss over the grief people feel, not wanting to give into cultural pressures that make little room for real mourning, I say that we honestly grieve the loss of whoever has died, but we grieve as people with hope. That is how we might live into this Easter Season. Jesus’ resurrection appearances in the various gospels will surely be our guide to hope, but so will our letter: 1 Peter. This letter is one of the most hope-filled books in the New Testament. Its purpose is to encourage Christian converts living in the midst of a hostile society. Like most of the letters, there are a few passages that I would rather ignore; I have to remember that the letter was written in a very different time and place. Still, there is enough life-giving in the letter to hold our attention. The author names “a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1:3). That living hope is ours as well, even as the world around us groans. We hope that the God who created life out death on Easter morning will continue to create life from death. We hope that transformation is possible. And finally, like those disciples in the Emmaus Road story, we might say “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road?” (Luke 24:32).
This year at Trinity was supposed to be all about inviting people and continuing to share our stories of faith. As much as our world has been turned upside down or inside out, I still believe that can happen. We are people with living hope, a hope that is not of our own making but is pure gift from God. How we share that living hope may look different in the midst of a pandemic and physical distancing, but it can still happen. I would say it needs to happen. This hope cannot be summed up and put onto a bumper sticker. It is shared in continuous acts of love and relationship. It is sometimes beyond words, but it is real all the same. Claim the living hope of the resurrection as your own in whatever way you can (some days it will be easier than others and that’s okay). Then share that hope through your love for neighbor and stranger.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!