April 12, 2020
Dear St. James Community,
I don’t know how many times I have begun writing this year’s Easter Message. I was actually at one point on a second paragraph, when I said no, highlighted the whole draft and hit delete. I just did not know how to begin. After a plethora of introductions, I finally stepped back and asked myself, what do I want to convey to all of us, and this letter suddenly became crystal clear. The reason I write these letters each year is for the purpose of wishing you all and those you love, a Blessed Holy Week and a Joyous Eastertide. My friends, what I want to say to you in this message is, Happy Easter!
Today we begin the Easter Triduum, albeit slightly differently than we are accustomed to. These services or perhaps better stated, the service, for we celebrate these holy days beginning with the Maundy Thursday Liturgy, moving into Good Friday and culminating in Christ’s Resurrection, as one united service, is our most sacred time as Christian people. We move from quiet celebration, to deepest darkness, to Resurrection, Salvation, light. We remember over the course of the next hours, God bringing us over from death to life. Although we are in the midst of physical distancing and perhaps fear, although currently our lives and days proceed with a fair amount of uncertainty, although we cannot gather together as a community in this building, we still gather together, together my friends in heart and mind and soul whereby we commemorate and celebrate these Holy Days. And while these commemorations and celebrations conclude on Sunday, the celebration itself does not end but continues on, with the proclamation on our lips that has rung out through twenty one centuries, Christ is Risen!
Perhaps no more so than in these days as we traverse perilous times, is it so important to remember Easter is not simply a day, but an end to the Salvation story and at the same time the beginning of the Salvation story, an end and a beginning that we carry with us throughout life. It is this gift, Christ’s Resurrection, the richest manifestation of God’s love for us, which is always a part of our lives.
I know people who are suffering during this time from COVID-19, I know some who have been afflicted by COVID-19, I know people who have lost loved ones to this disease, and some who have lost multiple loved ones. We all deal with the fear of catching this disease ourselves. No matter what, my friends, no matter what we have gone through, what we are going through, what may come, we can all say Happy Easter today and everyday. While we celebrate Easter this Sunday, I remember a Seminary professor saying, “every Sunday is a ‘little Easter’ for every Sunday is a celebration of Easter, of Resurrection, of new life.” Let every day be for us little Easters, for the darkness of Good Friday, the darkest time in the history of our world, the darkest time brought about by us, humanity, has come to an end and it came to an end in life shed upon this world through Jesus’ unmatched, unending love for us, shown in His willingly drinking the cup given by the Father, that would set us free. Willingly going to His death, willingly enduring the cross and grave.
I walked into our Sanctuary on Monday to prepare for the service. I stood in the center aisle and my eyes were drawn to one of our stained glass windows.This evening this window was beautifully lit by the sunset, giving it this shimmering pinkish glow. It was the window of Jesus with His arms outstretched and a lamb by His side. I was flooded at that moment with who Jesus is. He is our shepherd, He is our leader, He is our friend, He is our Saviour, He is the one who gave us the promise “I am with you always! I am with you always, even to the end of the age” letting us know, that He, right now, this very moment, is walking with us, with you, side by side, arm in arm. He is the One who said to us, when Coronavirus strikes, when any adversity strikes, I am with you, for He is with us always. We know these words to be true my friends, because they are His words, His promise, and if we doubt them, we need look no further than the empty tomb, a tomb which was inhabited because, and now stands empty because, God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so loved the world, so loved us. That tomb was inhabited and now stands empty for one reason, God’s love for us. A love that is with us always, for Easter is with us always.
Right now our days are different, our times are different, our celebrations may be slightly different this year, but in the end all is the same this year as any year. For this Sunday, every Sunday, every day of the year we are blessed to remember and proclaim Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed. My friends be safe and know we will get through these days of pandemic together, together with each other and with Our Risen Lord. I wish you and those you love a Blessed Easter Triduum, a Happy Easter and a Joyous Eastertide.
Yours In Christ,