It doesn’t matter that Easter, like last year, was muted in most of our churches. I’m told that Passover, March 27 to April 4, was the same. But our priests and rabbis showed up wading through aisles of lilies and beckoning the faithful to come in. The crowds were limited, however, but more in number this year than last. Still, the memories of past Easters and Passovers hung in the spring air offering promises, like the yellow crocuses, the miniature wild trillium, the persistent daffodils. Spring is here; our long nightmare of sickness and death is becoming a resurrection of its own through vaccinations and tests and the ever-vigilant care of medical professionals and scientists.
If you looked out on our congregations in Easters past, the church looked like a garden itself: pink and yellow dresses, mauve ties and purple shirts bobbing like new flowers emerging timidly to look around and be sure winter has gone. I don’t get knotted up about worshipers showing up on Easter but seldom in between. For this wonderful spring day we are all reminded that commemorating His Resurrection is a downright splendid idea! I’m just happy that many people feel that tug, that call to go a little further and connect their souls to the beauty of the day. So, in the past we lifted the beams. We shouted Alleluias. We pulled out all the stops: organ blasting, flags waving, families chattering and greeting others. The choir and musicians rendered the charging notes of The Messiah. We rang the bells. We lit the fire (always a treat for the kids). We huddled in candlelight as the celebrant advanced to the altar. We smiled benignly during “The Exultet”, often sung off-key and a cappella by a well-intentioned parishioner. And, if you attended the Vigil of Easter, you were touched and moved to tears as new converts were baptized and confirmed in their faith. Oh, the fortissimo of this event! The comforting, joyful miracle of Resurrection actually took place and we have benefitted from it since. Like many of you, I wish we could have had all this on Easter this year.
But, perhaps in a different way, we did have it. Maybe something tugged at your heart encouraging you to ‘come home’. Maybe, in place of all the bells and whistles, the songs and Alleluias, you thought for a moment of your religious upbringing when you were one of the flowers in the congregation in attendance with your parents. Maybe you have thought that your life has twisted in the winds of doubt and the consuming divisiveness we now endure. Maybe you are just plain angry, alone. Maybe you are wondering where you belong.
News flash here. You belong where you are led, but you must move and that is the hardest part: getting started, knocking on the door. The destination will show itself if you make the effort to travel. It might be to a church or a synagogue or a mosque. But please go. You deserve the comfort and challenge of your faith. And, if you don’t believe in God or you struggle with a particular religion, seek out people who can help in the exploration. I guarantee happiness will take place. And that’s the reason for an Alleluia!!!
No matter your faith, why not sit with your sacred readings and let them speak to you in the silence of reflection?
Spring is a time for renewal, physical and spiritual. Sit quietly and ask for the courage to change your life, to help it to grow, to be part of the faith you are called to belong. Ask to be part of a resurrection in your own life.
For Catholics and Christians, I recommend you think on the beautiful post-Easter readings, Luke 24:13-53; John 21:1-25.
What Easter challenge is God calling you to do?