At the end of each day of kindergarten, we would line up at the door. Our teacher would lead us in reciting these words of commission:
Stop, look, and listen before you cross the street.
Use your eyes, use your ears, and then use your feet.
Think about the parting rituals that have been a part of your life. Maybe yours is a family that plays, “Love you! Love you more!” at the doorway. I’m always glad when I can catch The Writer’s Almanac on the car radio and hear Garrison Keillor bless the morning with these words:
“Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.”
This Easter, I’m drawn again to a parting ritual from a season when my congregation recited these words from Bishop Desmond Tutu’s African Prayer Book before heading downstairs for coffee and then out the door for another week of following Jesus:
Goodness is stronger than evil.
Love is stronger than hate.
Light is stronger than darkness.
Life is stronger than death.
Victory is ours, through him who loved us.
I believe these words. I believe them to be vessels of the mystery of Easter. I also know that in each one of our congregations, each time we gather for worship, some ones in the sanctuary are living through days when evil is stronger, living through days when hate and darkness are stronger, living through days when death is stronger. And beyond the sanctuary walls, so many more have no victory song to sing.
In each one of our congregations, each time we gather for worship, we proclaim Easter. We proclaim God’s victory. We proclaim goodness and love and light and life. We wrap strong, gentle arms around those who cannot sing of victory just now. We raise their silence and their tears. We proclaim Easter alongside them. We promise again to do good in the midst of evil, to show love in the midst of hate, to reflect Christ’s light in dark places, to claim life in the shadow of death.
And we remember that when our own journeys wind through evil, hateful, dark and death-shadowed days, others will wrap strong, gentle arms around us, raise our silences and our tears, and proclaim Easter alongside us.
Thank you, dear brothers and sisters, for all the ways that you and your congregations are vessels of the mystery of Easter. Thank you for singing. Thank you for being safe, welcoming, healing places for silence and tears.
Jonna Jensen, Associate Conference Minister