Greetings on this Feast of the Resurrection!
Our journey to Easter morning has been a long and determined one.
Together we have walked the 40 days and 40 nights of Lent, studying, praying, fasting, and giving of ourselves to others. We have lived out the sacred drama of Holy Week- greeted our Lord with palms and song on Palm Sunday, gathered on Maundy Thursday to proclaim the institution of the Lord’s Supper side by side around the altar, dwelled in the darkness of the tomb with Jesus on Good Friday, and, finally, found a spark of hope that was kindled into a blazing fire of glory in the resurrection at the Easter Vigil.
Our own lives have been touched, changed by the spiritual practices we took on as a Lenten discipline- or perhaps we have learned a little something about humility and forgiveness as we found ourselves falling away from those practices around the second or third week. Regardless, each and every one of us has emerged on the other side of this season transformed in one way or another.
Each of us has died in some small way to the self we were back on that cold Wednesday at the beginning of March when we were reminded that we come from dust, and to dust we shall return, and each of us has been resurrected with Christ to greet this sunny spring morning of Easter. Just as the ground has warmed, green shoots of grass have pushed upwards, and buds have unfurled into blossoms all around us, our hearts have opened and made a little more room for our God- and we will continue to push, to unfurl, to transform.
As our world passes through its yearly cycle of seasons, as the Church calendar moves through a cycle of fasts and feasts, so too our lives pass through cyclical seasons of birth, death, and resurrection. I pray that you have found yourself changed this Easter, your compassion increased, your love exponentially multiplied.
Theologian Frederick Beuchner says that Easter is proof that the worst thing is never the last thing in any of our stories. Instead, he says, the Resurrection shows us that “the last thing is the best- the power from on high that comes down into the world, that wells up from the rock-bottom worst of the world like a hidden spring. Can you believe it? The last, best thing is the laughing deep in the hearts of the saints, sometimes our hearts even. Yes. You are terribly loved and forgiven. Yes. You are healed. All is well.”
May your Eastertide be one of love, forgiveness, laughter, and joy. Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed! Alleluia!
The Rev’d Mariclair Partee Carlsen,
Rector and Episcopal Chaplain to the University of Pennsylvania