How do we Celebrate Easter in a Good Friday World?

Three Reflections from Grace members, Port Townsend

clear liquid pouring on person's hands
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash                        
            Despite my great desire to sing out an amazing Alleluia, something is catching in my throat.  How does one sing in difficult times?  I pick up the paper and the headlines snatch my breath.  This day has had more deaths from the coronavirus than any other.   More than 100 doctors and nurses have died while tending others. Last Easter I sang Alleluia in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.  This year the cathedral is a field hospital and is serving the sick.  Having lived in New York City for twenty years and now hearing of friends who are sick and who have died causes a heart pain; I carry this ache into Easter.  
            And yet, Easter it is.  We can’t take a pass card and postpone it.  And when I think of Jesus’s resurrection, I know that Jesus brought his death and passion into the resurrection experience.  One event does not stop and the next begin.  Rather they flow into one another.  If one cuts out death what would resurrection signify?   Some of you have lost a loved one and have experienced excruciating pain; and then, with amazing grace, you know the day that the song again is born.  The experiences flow from one another.
            As Christians we walk in the world that is given.  And I suppose for me, the way that I practice the resurrection in this dark time is through simple things.
            A ritual that exemplifies the hope of the resurrection is the washing of hands.  The water which is so symbolic for Christians and for all religions becomes the sign of the seen and the unseen.  We wash our hands; we feel the soap between our fingers, our palms, the tips of our fingers.  When we place our hands under the flowing water we rub and create a wondrous foam that wreathes our hands.  And our nerves feel the touch, the water, the movement.
            The priest in my New York parish would, during the Eucharist, wash his hands with a wild, noisy splash of water.   This is a resurrection prayer that we give to ourselves and to others.  Through a simple act we say no more death.  And with this prayer I can sing Alleluia.  The BCP says that we do this in the “sure and certain hope of resurrection.”  Alleluia, Alleluia.

--Rev. Kate Kinney
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If the spirit of God is to flow freely through us, we must keep those doors to our innermost selves open, and clear the space within. One discipline for establishing this commitment is contemplate prayer. When engaged in contemplation, one enters a state of stillness, ignoring all thoughts and feelings, neither clinging to them nor fighting them, simply paying no attention them, letting them come and letting them go. Thoughts and feeling will float by like shadows at the periphery, but are not to become vivid and occupy the space reserved for God. And, over time, this inner sanctuary will grow stronger, expand, and eventually may penetrate the entire person, issuing forth as unceasing prayer of the heart. 
                                    Suzanne Farnum, Keeping in Tune with God, p 15

     Tis in between time, as we know, it has been odd in many ways. It went well, I thought, with the Lenten season, but now, with Easter upon us what will we do to celebrate Christ’s coming to us in new ways, over and over again.
    For me, with the quiet that is now around me and with less to accomplish, more time for contemplative prayer has returned to my life in an important way. 
The above quote is from one of Suzanne Farnum’s books in her Listening Hearts series. 
    These last weeks have encouraged me to spend more time in contemplation either on my long walks around Fort Worden or simply sitting in my study letting the presence of God sink into my being. It’s been a powerful practice for Lent and I am hoping it only increases during the always-too-short Easter season. I invite you to find your own inner sanctuary, showing forth your unceasing prayer of the heart.

--Rev. Patti Barrett 
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woman in white hijab holding persons hand
Photo by Nico Smit on Unsplash
Spring sometime during World War II in Bergenbelsen

    The men huddled in the shadows in the dark back corner of the barracks.  They talked in whispers so as not to draw attention.  The moon was full and lighted the room a bit more than usual.  “Ja, it’s acceptable,” said one.  “I received word from the Rabbi by way of Eli who works in the factory who told Jakob who works next to me in the field.  The brown bread has yeast, but in this circumstance, it will be acceptable.” As they huddled together, they prayed, “Beruch ata adonai eluhenu, melech h’olam.  Blessed are you, oh, Lord, our God, King of the Universe.”  

     Yeast is traditionally avoided for Passover because the ancestors had not had time for bread to rise before fleeing slavery in Egypt.  The men celebrated quietly; it was a small celebration unlike what they had known with their families in earlier times.  For us, this Easter will also be unlike what we have known in better times.  But “in this circumstance it will be acceptable.”  In fact, more than acceptable.  A gift of grace and new life as only the Ruler of the Universe can provide.  Thanks be to God.

--Rev. Beth Orling

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