EASTER SUNDAY SPECIAL
Let Emergency’s Lessons
Strengthen Our Humanity
This disease has not been sent as a punishment from God. The sacred scriptures have shown us repeatedly that God, while not causing an event, can use an event to teach us, to bring us closer to God’s very self that we might experience God’s mercy and compassion.
And might this lesson be found in a curious parallel in Matthew’s Passion? There are two seemingly unconnected items that are in some sense bound together. A crown of thorns woven by Roman soldiers and a seamless tunic woven in one piece by a woman, Jesus’ mother perhaps?
But what did the seamless garment instinctively speak to those hardened, unsympathetic soldiers that even they knew enough not to tear it into pieces?
One act of weaving mocked the dignity of humanity; another act of weaving can bind the spiritual wounds of humanity.
When the coronavirus withdraws – and it will, when the mocking crown is removed from humanity and set aside, we will need the seamless garment to bind. How will this experience of the coronavirus change us? …change our relationships to one another? …our relationship with God? What are you going to weave?
Father DAVID MICKIEWICZ
St. Mary’s Church, Oneonta
Resurrection Means Hope,
A Way To Face Challenges
Just a small virus changes life, leaving joblessness, overwork, distant relationships, and depression in its wake.
The Bible is an account of God’s rescue operation that ended in failure of Jesus’ death. But then God pulls off the greatest rescue of all time in the stunning resurrection.
Easter is not just a tradition that we observe once a year, but the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ makes us a people of hope and changes how we respond to the challenges of the day and to each other!
He is the only lasting hope!
Pastor JACK KLOSHEIM
Community Bible Chapel
When Disease Dissipates,
The ‘New Normal’ Awaits
Papers and blogs are bleeding anxiety over the current crisis, and speculation about the “New Normal.” Even when the pandemic is over, we hear, things will never go back to previous versions of business as usual.
That’s the way I see Resurrection.
What is Resurrection, anyway? Is it simply coming back from the grave, as though I suffered a fatal bout of death but then “got over it”? Is it like reversing the process of dying so we go back to the pre-death status quo?
When the Risen Jesus leaves his tomb empty, he hasn’t simply regained his old way of being alive. He displays an astounding New Way of life. He walks through walls. He surprises hikers on the road. He lets them recognize him when he breaks bread. Or he keeps them from spotting him when he converses.
And there’s a paradox: Jesus ascends into heaven, promising to return at some undisclosed future date. But at the same time he promises that he will be with them – and with us: Always, even to the end of this age.
Countless followers will testify that he has kept his promise to this very day.
This resurrection is absolutely NOT going back to the Old Normal. The Risen Christ is with us as the New Normal. That New Normal is his life now, and it is the sign of the life which can and should be our life in the age to come.
The great task of this life for us is to get accustomed to the New Normal. The inventor Charles Kettering said his greatest interest was in the future, because that was where he was going to live, so our greatest interest should be in the Resurrection life we now find in Jesus, because that is where we can hope to live eternally.
Father KENNETH HUNTER
St. James Episcopal Church
Spiritual Truths Promise
Easter Sunday is the opportunity to be found. Just as Jesus found Mary Magdalene in the Garden on Easter Sunday.
Mary went to the Garden, expecting to find the body of a man whom she was to tend.
She went there with sadness in her heart, believing that evil had won the day.
She went to the tomb to find, but instead she was found, by the risen Lord.
Don’t we all want to be found? To be recognized? To matter?
These are difficult days we are all living through, and Easter Sunday is the perfect opportunity to set aside all the doubts, anxieties and stresses in our current physical world, and turn to spiritual truths for reassurance and confidence.
The Rev. SYLVIA BARRETT
Milford United Methodist Church
In Time Of Trial, Listen
To Jubilant Cry Of Hope
Christians are in the midst of the holiest and longest week of the year: Holy Week is an Octave – eight days from Palm/Passion Sunday through Easter.
Normally I would be hearing confessions on Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday, after having observed Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and then reading the Passion Narrative (this year from Matthew’s Gospel).
But there is nothing “normal” about this Holy Week.
The powers of darkness (sin, evil) that Jesus came to overthrow, seem to have gathered strength to shut down all gatherings of the faithful this year. People of faith are clearly not immune from any of the realities of viruses, disappointment, depression, disease and, ultimately, death itself, which infect our earthly home.
Jesus calls us to be “wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” Such wisdom tells us (based on medical recommendations in the COVID-19 era) that we should “socially distance” ourselves from one another. Such distancing can lead to isolation, sadness and feelings of loss.
Jesus knew such isolation and sadness. On the night before His crucifixion He prayed to His Father, and ours, that He might escape this suffering and loss. But He submitted to the Father’s will and offered Himself on the Cross, to pay the price for all the diseases of this world, on Good Friday.
Our Jewish brothers and sisters are observing their holy festival of freedom, Passover, this week. At the end of the Seder meal in the home, the jubilant cry of hope is given: “Next year in Jerusalem! Next year may all be free!”
Christians celebrate that freedom, from all that ails our human family, in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter. Our jubilant cry of hope is, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” Life and love overcome even death itself!
In such hope and confident faith, we pray that next year (and much sooner!) we may all be able to gather in our churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and homes and, with our immediate and extended families, celebrate God’s good gifts!
Next year may all be free!
The Rev. PAUL MESSNER
Otsego County Lutheran Parish