Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
During this week, Holy Week, and we are invited to journey together with Jesus so that we might come to understand more fully the meaning of the life he lived and begin to comprehend the significance of his death for all of us.
This evening we break bread, as Jesus did with his disciples, and remember his command to us, to love one another as he has loved us. We remember that following Jesus means going beyond our comfort level: embracing our own vulnerability, in allowing our feet to be washed, and in serving others, as we wash the feet of another. We hear again the passion of Jesus, allowing the enormity of his love for us to break through our numbness to pain and suffering in the world around us and buried deep within our own hearts. We sit in the terrible silence of the tomb on Holy Saturday, knowing that too many of us at this moment, perhaps we ourselves, are trapped in the all too real and painful darkness of death and the enormity of its hold over us.
Until finally, like the shoots pushing through the hard ground, we begin to glimpse the fullness of this story, the reason we walk through it each year, attempting to fathom more fully just what it means for us. And we come to know the power of resurrection: the power of love to crush even the power of death. And we allow the joy of that reality to seep deep into our hearts, transforming our lives with the radiance of light and love even in the face of death.
One of the earliest traditions in Christianity is the Easter Vigil when the church, gathered in darkness, first experiences the new fire piercing that darkness with the light of God’s love. And then the Exsultet is sung, as it has been from the earliest days and continues to be by Christians around the world, announcing:
This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel,
out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land.
This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered
from the gloom of sin,and are restored to grace and holiness of life.
This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell,
and rose victorious from the grave.
How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving kindness,
that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son.
How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight and sin is washed away.
It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn.
It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord.
How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and man is reconciled to God.
This Holy Week, hear the story of the passion with a commitment to solidarity with those trapped in the power of death, with those who differ from us and to the brokenness in our own hearts. This is how Jesus lived and breathed and taught, and by taking hostility into himself on the cross, he has set us free from its grip in our lives.
Allow yourself room to stretch and learn and grow in and through this Holy Week, in and through all of your life experiences. Wherever you are and however you journey this week, be filled with courage. Allow hostility, to yourself and to others, to die, so that we may all be set free in Love.
Peace and hope to see you on Sunday to celebrate Easter!