Easter Sunday Communion Service

The following links will provide you with additional information, activities and resources for the whole family for Easter Sunday:
https://sjruc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/AlleluiaPoster_8.5×11.pdf
https://sjruc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Easter.pdf

#Easterisnotcancelled

I’ll be honest – I don’t usually worry about an Easter sermon.  There’s so much going on in an Easter worship celebration with the extra music, communion, and experiential pieces that a sermon just feels like ‘putting a hat on a hat.’[1]  However, there’s a couple of things in this resurrection experience that I want to hold up for us in these times.

I bought this lily earlier in the week, fully closed.  I looked up ways to ensure that it would open in time for Easter, put it in warm spots, and watered it, I’ve sang to it (bonus points for anyone that can identify the song!):

I’ve given you sunshine, I’ve given you dirt
You’ve given me nothing, But heartache and hurt
I’m beggin’ you sweetly, I’m down on my knees
Oh, please [bloom] for me!

And then I realized what I was doing.  I wanted it to function on my timeline, on my terms, and if there’s something I’ve learned over the last few weeks, we are on a whole new timeline. 

We don’t know how long “flattening the curve” will take. 
We don’t know when a vaccine will be ready. 
We don’t know how long it will be before everyone feels comfortable to return to life as it has been – socially, religiously, etc.

And so we wait.  And we discover that there’s this beautiful liturgical tradition of waiting, in our church history, that some of our denominations have lost.  While much attention is given to Good Friday, and second to that, Maundy Thursday, Holy Saturday is rarely mentioned.  It’s not mentioned because scripturally, there’s no stories of that time, because it resembles the text (just after our reading today – starting at John 20:19)

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

We have to be cautious of texts like these because they carry antisemitism and hatred towards the Jewish people, eerily similar to the xenophobia directed at Asian people during this time of virus.  Human beings tend to fall into traps of blame to try and make our current situation bearable.  We are creatures that want explanations, we are creatures of meaning.

The meaning in this story comes from the start of that sentence – the disciples were locked away in fear.  They are locked away because their friend had just been murdered and they weren’t sure who was next.  But what’s missing in the story is how the disciples reacted to Mary’s encounter at the tomb. 

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

What’s missing is that the disciples discounted and gaslit Mary for the story she told.  What’s missing is that they don’t believe her, because for those who heard the story second hand, very little has changed.  They’re hiding behind locked doors for fear what lay beyond them.  And their fear is less about what is awaiting them outside their doors, but what awaits them in the future.  Think of the great amount of fear currently in our world –we’re fearful[2] not just because of this virus, but what happens when someone we love gets it, or if we get it, how will we cope.  We’re fearful because we’re living in a future not-yet-written. 

But we’re not those disciples.  We’re closer to Mary, or Simon Peter, or the beloved disciple.  We may not be firsthand witnesses to the resurrection, but we know how the story ends.  We make a choice to believe that after every time of waiting, after every painful moment of expecting death, every fearful moment hiding behind locked doors, that an experience of the divine, an experience of the Risen Christ follows.  This is what Easter brings.  Easter is the experience that we bloom in spite of the snow that falls.  Easter is the knowledge that God never lets the story end in despair. 

So our waiting time must be filled with hope.  As Easter people, we go out with hope of resurrection, singing our stories boldly, expecting to experience the Risen Christ in the new life that awaits us.   Because what awaits us is not a return to life as we know it – as one person put online: 

This is true of Mary, and Simon Peter, and the beloved disciple.  Normal wasn’t working for them.  And so they live into this command, this encouragement, this blessing to rise up and do better.  Because we’ve got this.  We can rise up and do better because this is the true ending of our Gospels, it is the beginning of our ministry together.  Rising up and doing better transcends even our religious beliefs, as we as creation are taking better care of one another in this most harrowing time.  And I pray that when all of this is over, that that way that we’ve made connection with one another, that way that we’re starting to look out for one another, the way we’re starting to see our interconnectedness with one another and the planet, I pray this never ends.

Jesus Christ is Risen.  He is Risen indeed!


[1] A turn of phrase meaning ‘overdoing’ something, or belabouring a point.

[2] https://www.livereal.com/psychology/eckhart-tolle-fear/

5 Comments

  1. How appropriate to hear horns in the prelude with the Tabernacle Choir and the harp in the postlude and Yes, I stood and sang for the Hallelujah chorus. The music, the words and also the egg experiment along with a memorable at-home communion service had us with you Rev. Chris. You spend immeasurable time checking and selecting just the right resources to make each service so special. As you said the future is not yet written yet we go ahead in hope, rising up and doing better. Enjoyed the Sunrise Service by the Grand River as well.

  2. Loved both services. Communion with a shared GF graham cracker cookie and cranberry juice was very intimate but felt like we were with everyone at SJRUC as well.
    Can’t wait to be with all our friends again.
    Nahum’s contribution was eggsellent!!!

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