The Easter leftovers are gone from the stores now. Even the jellybeans and plastic grass that were marked half-price have disappeared to wherever those things go. But, in the church, we continue to proclaim the Easter joy: “Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen Indeed!” We point to the ever-bursting season of spring to proclaim the new life that is emerging all around us. We breathe deeply of soft air and celebrate the song of early-morning birds building nests.
But. Easter is more than spring. Resurrection is more than daffodils and tulips blooming in their normal cycle. This Eastertide, I am especially aware of that, because we just returned from a month of wandering through the far-away country of New Zealand. There, it is not spring during Lent and Easter. There (because it is the Southern Hemisphere) it is FALL. As in autumn. Easter celebrations run side-by-side with end-of-the-summer triathalons and last-of-the-season summer concerts. Winter looms on the horizon. It’s confusing! It changes my perspective! So this Easter I find myself looking for signs of resurrection that are not tied to my sense of the changing weather.
The other day, I watched as my neighbor (who had long ago given up hope of ever being a grandmother) walked her new grand baby down the street for a bit of fresh air. Joy has replaced sorrow – at least for now. “”Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen Indeed!”
Every night, when I FaceTime with my mother (who is almost 90) I hear stories of her compatriots getting out of their apartments to walk, or go to a concert, or be part of a book club, or to join in a reader’s theater group, or to take a painting class. All of them carry the awareness of death and dying in their souls, and yet they choose to find new life in one another’s company. “Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen Indeed!”
We all hear the stories of refugees – stuck in camps under the worst possible conditions – and yet somehow finding the strength to keep looking for a new life. The human spirit is so much more than our circumstances! “Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen Indeed!”
At the church where I am a member, I watch refugees, who have found a new place to live in this country, gather day after day and week after week in our church basement to do the hard work of learning English, and the Pledge of Allegiance, practicing how to use electrical appliances, or how to shop for basic things like diapers and clothes for their children. New life is emerging for them through their own determination and through the kindness of volunteers and through the grace of God and through the gift of community. “”Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen Indeed!”
Many of us look around at the landscape of our churches, and we see death and decay. Few of us would say that our churches are full of worshippers and we struggle to name “”new life” in our midst. We proclaim Easter’s joy, but too quickly our focus shifts to all the ways that we feel we are “failing”. We forget to look around us for the signs of Christ’s ongoing presence in our daily lives…and in the life of our church communities. Things like…..
A small prayer group that brings healing and hope. A shrinking Sunday School….that faithfully continues to teach children and adults to explore what it means to be a disciple of Jesus the Christ. A worship service that offers up our best talents to the glory of God, so that our hearts and minds might be warmed and challenged to live in the wake of the resurrection of our Lord. Even in our smallest churches, there is new life rising in this season of Eastertide! We are not a people of death. We are a people of new life, given to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We may have to look for it. We certainly need to celebrate it. And we are asked to tell the story to everyone we know. “Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen Indeed!”
—Katherine Mulhern, Program Support/Adjunct for 2030 Iowa