Pastor’s Corner (4/8/2021)
“I have discovered over time that the cross is supposed to take its toll on us. It forms us to find God in the shadows of life. Ironically enough, it is the cross that teaches us hope. When we have survived our own cross, risen alive from the grave of its despair, we begin to know that we can survive again and again and again whatever life sends us in the future. It is this hope that carries us from stage to stage in life, singing and dancing around dark corners. But hope is not a private virtue. Hope makes us witness to the invincibility of the Spirit. The hope we bring to the other becomes the one sure gift we have to give to those in pain. What’s more, having suffered ourselves we become more caring to those in darknesses of their own. Suffering is what turns us into caring people.” –Joan D. Chittister
In the book Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir, Sister Joan D. Chittister talks about the cross and the hope of resurrection in the 12th chapter entitled “Darkness; a way to the light.” Her reflections really struck a chord for me as we move into Eastertide. Although she wrote this book about 16 years ago, her words still resonate. Little did she know as she wrote this book that we would face the challenges that have been a part of our lives this past year. Easter this year seems more poignant to me given these challenges.
We have dealt with suffering on a national and global scale. As she points out, we all bear the cross in various ways throughout our lives. This year we have carried the cross of awareness; through protest, poetry, literature, cinema, and speech we have been made aware of the burden of racism that still weighs down our country and world. As part of the global community, we have also carried the cross of pandemic. COVID-19 has affected us all differently. Many have borne the cross of loss and grief as they deal with the death of loved ones brought about by this virus. Even those of us not so directly wounded have been scarred. Many in our world, nation, community, and church have carried the cross of grief and the pain of saying goodbye without the traditional resources. But as Chittister reminds us, carrying our crosses forms us as Christians just as it formed Jesus. We are invited to cultivate a sense of compassion for all those who carry their own crosses. She went on to say that sharing our crosses of suffering helps make us caring and loving people. Ironically, it is the willingness to carry our cross and suffer with others that teaches us hope. As we move into the Easter season we are reminded that suffering, death, and the cross do not have the final word.
The new life found in the resurrection of Jesus teaches us that new life and hope triumph. Fortunately, this year we have weather that bears the signs of this new life. As the warm sun shone on us Easter morning we were greeted with the sounds of singing birds and the blossoming of flowers. I suspect I was not the only one moved by our Easter service this past Sunday. The beautiful lilies and flowers, the bright paraments, and the wonderful music filled the sanctuary as we gathered for worship. The joy was tangible as we remembered last Easter, probably the first time in our congregation’s history when we were unable to gather for public worship on this holy day. It was truly a joyous day! Such joy and hope make it possible to carry our crosses. The resurrection of Jesus reminds us daily that suffering and death do not have the final word. The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
In peace, joy, and hope,