Saturday, April 11, 2020


Brothers and sisters of Holy Comforter,
     it has been a hard Holy Week, but that is fitting. 
In Holy Week we face up to how bad things can get.
Christianity does not say if you do everything right,
     believe all the doctrines,
     and have a good attitude, everything will be ok.
Holy Week means that the worst things
     can happen to the best people.

But Easter means that violence,
     cruelty and injustice do not get the last word.
God gets the last word.
His word is peace, mercy, and justice.
His word is freedom, happiness, and life.
That is what he made us for and that is our destiny.

Jesus was convicted of treason, tortured, killed, and buried.
That’s about as bad as it gets. 
Then he rose and ascended to glory
     to show us what lies on the other side 
      of suffering and death.

Easter gives us hope to carry us through
     the losses that are part of every life.
We have all lost a lot.
We’ve lost people we loved, lost our own innocence,
     lost our hopes and our dreams.
Or we thought we had lost them.

The Resurrection means we haven’t.
All the good things we have ever lost or ever will lose
     are being kept safe for us in the heart of God.
They are being held in safekeeping until the day
     we are ready to receive them back – only better.
They come back to us healed, made whole, 
        transformed into who or what
they were always meant to be.
We will be able to hold them as we never could before,
     because we too will be healed, made whole,  
      transformed into who we were always meant to  be.

In Francis Thompson’s classic poem,  
      The Hound of Heaven,  God says,
     “All which I took from thee I did but take
                 Not for thy harms;
     But just that thou mightst seek it in my arms.”

What have you lost?
Who have you lost?
All our losses are Good Friday.

Easter is God’s answer to Good Friday.
Easter is God’s promise that all we have lost 
is still there waiting for us.
Easter is God’s assurance
     that nothing beautiful, good, or true,
     nothing loving, decent, or kind is lost forever.
God is God – so Truth, Beauty, and Goodness are eternal.
These things don’t perish.

Can we believe it?
Do we dare to believe it?
Such happiness is beyond our imaginations,  
        but that’s because the world 
        has made our imaginations too small.
If we dare to believe in God, 
         we can live in that hope today.

But our belief in God is often a faint thing          
     because usually we don’t notice God.
We don’t notice God because God is so big.
We don’t notice God because God is everywhere.

It’s like we are in a room that we think 
          is just boards and plaster.
We sit in this room paying no attention to it.
We are just talking to each other about nothing.
But then the room interrupts our conversation.
The room speaks to us, calls our name.
 Naturally we are startled, maybe even scared.

Then the room says something strange.
It says, “I am not just boards and plaster.
     I am alive and I love you.
     And there is a word outside this room.
     I am that world too.
     That world outside this room is alive and loves you.
     And whatever you have lost, whoever you have lost,
                 is out there –  still loving you.”

Easter is the room speaking to us
a word of hope and salvation.
But then it gets better.

The people and the things we have lost
     are waiting for us outside this room,
                 but they are not alone.
God is there waiting for us.

That may not sound like the best news of all – but it is.
It may not sound like the best news 
     because we don’t really know God here.
We get a glimpse of God’ power when the wind
     kicks up the waves of the ocean.
We catch a glimpse of God’s beauty in the flight 
       of that hawk that so loves to perch 
      on our church cross.
We get a hint of God’s wisdom in the silence 
        of a snowscape.

God is in these things.
God whispers to us in these things.
We catch little clues about who God is.
But God is so much more than anything we have seen..
          so much more than we can imagine.
God’s presence changes everything. 

In Isaiah chapter 65, God tells us what 
      that final Easter morning will mean for us.

     “No more shall the sound of weeping be heard . . . , 
                 or the cry of distress. 
     No more shall there be . . .  
     an infant that lives but a few days, 
     or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; . . . .
      for like the days of a tree shall the days 
      of my people be, 
      and my chosen shall long enjoy 
      the work of their hands. 
      They shall not labor in vain, 
      or bear children for calamity; 
     for they shall be offspring blessed by the LORD . . . 
     Before they call I will answer, 
     while they are yet speaking I will hear. 

     The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, 
     the lion shall eat straw like the ox; . . . 
     they shall not hurt or destroy
     on all my holy mountain, says the LORD.”

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is our best friend
     coming back to life.
But it is far far more than that.
It is God’s promise that death does not get the final word.
The Resurrection is God’s promise that we too 
     will be raised, and not raised back into this life 
                 with all its trouble and travail
      – but raised into the presence of God
      where we will drink from the waters of eternal life.
We will finally become ourselves,
        and feast at the table of friendship with our Maker.