Vicar’s Message |April 2021
Last Easter, my partner Beth and I sat on the couch and watched Easter Sunday service at the National Cathedral on YouTube. At the end of it, I wept. Actually, before it was even over, I was crying at the current situation – still in my pajamas while it was going on noon in an onslaught of days that all felt so similar. It was near impossible to grasp one was the holiest one of the year, let alone different than the rest. Where were you last Easter? What were you doing, or rather….not doing?
Actually, I must backtrack in my account of last Easter. My tearful, sorry-for-myself episode was the second worship service of the day. The first one was at 6 o’clock that morning. Beth and I were invited to a Sunrise Service on Zoom with other women faith leaders around the country. Each person was encouraged to attend using only the natural light of their environment. This meant many of us started in the dark and struggled to see the others on Zoom. It might sound silly, but we found tremendous meaning and resonance with Mary racing back to the disciples before dawn from the empty tomb. This notion along with that of weeping amidst bewilderment later in the day may have felt like the most Easter experience I have ever directly had.
On a typically joyous day, I cannot help but recall Mary Magdalene, the first person to declare a risen Christ. There is not a resurrection account in the Bible that does not include Mary’s fear or terror or confusion. The first Easter is described as happening in the dark and giving way to many more complex emotions than the joy we can now appreciate on Easter. Well, except for last Easter anyway. Yet, I can now deeply appreciate (though never wish for it again!) such an Easter in which I got the slightest sense of that first Easter – one in which nothing makes sense in a very upsetting way. More importantly, I have a much richer faithful response to subsequent Easters, both in the early years of the church and this year with what feels like an all new festival.
On a global level, we are beginning to experience a new life. As a congregation, we are also faced with exciting new life in our redevelopment. The end of the pandemic is now in sight. And, we have gone through much fear and terror and confusion….and frustration and anger and well, we could each come up with a long list. So could Mary Magdalene, I would suppose. If Easter and Mary have taught us anything, we can see that delayed joy and celebration can be more cherished than initial plans. Sometimes the fear and confusion leads to an all new experience, which will never be taken for granted. As we celebrate the resurrection, perhaps we too can touch on Mary’s complex feelings, given what we have been through as a community surviving and preparing to thrive amidst pandemic. Reflecting on last Easter, especially compared to this Easter though still not completely out of the pandemic woods yet, we can gain a deeper understanding of Mary’s witness. May this nourish our own witness and testimony to a new life, coming out of the darkness of death.
In resurrection certainty,