The Rector’s April Letter

Dear Friends in Christ,          Ultimately Easter is an invitation.     Like all invitations this one too can be accepted or ignored, opened or tossed aside, received with great joy or profound apathy. The invitation of Easter is literally an invitation to new life. This new life paradoxically looks and feels a lot like our old life. This new life still insists that we experience death first hand, not vicariously. It not only doesn’t shield us from suffering but opens our eyes to see it everywhere around us. It gives us everything while allowing us to own nothing. It graciously confers total freedom by making us slaves of all.     Without Easter, without the vindication that God has overcome the world, then we are left only with the world. The world has always been riddled with warfare and chaos; our own day tragically is no different. Fueled by fear individuals, tribes, nation states, all of us, try to stake our claim to security and order. In so doing we actually exacerbate the situation making it more unstable and contentious. What Easter does is force us to see Jesus from the other side of Good Friday. Up to the point of embracing death on the Cross, his teaching, miracles, exorcisms and healings rank him right at the top of the list of great men and women who have ever lived. There he would have stayed – top of his class – role model par excellence. Easter changes that perception forever translating it into a new way of being. Now we look at Jesus and see not just what is possible but what actually is. Perhaps this is part of what Jesus means when he says that we, his followers, will do greater things than he has done. God invites us, a lump of clay riddled with contradiction and sin, and forms us into the image of the Living God. The claim is so preposterous is it any wonder that the invitation of Easter is ignored by so many?     Jesus lived and died in the “real” world and so, as his disciples so must we. So what makes us different having accepted the invitation to new life contained in Easter? The simplest answer is the three-letter word JOY. Unlike happiness that ebbs and flows like the tides of the sea, joy is a state of being. It not only doesn’t preclude sadness, it plunges us into our own and the sadness of others but with a conviction that the sadness too is passing away. Joy invites us to enjoy the material things of this world without our clinging to them and thus being controlled by them. By the way, generously giving of our money is, more than any other, the litmus test of whether or not we are only staring at the Easter invitation or have actually opened it. Joy opens our eyes to delights that are all around us but we continually miss—once again the gift that children freely bring to us.     Come and gather during this Easter season with another and celebrate, rejoice, laugh, giggle if need be. You have been invited to the party. You already have the prettiest party dress, the sharpest outfit because “you” have been invited. God wants to revel in you and in each of us, to share the love that is boundless and beautiful and a blessing on all. This is Easter joy.     Incarnate that joy on Friday, April 17th, from 7-9 p.m., when we will gather for a reception and celebration for no good reason other than saying thank you to God and one another for the invitation of Easter that so many of us have said yes to.     May the Peace of the Lord always be with you.     Faithfully,      Andrew+