Easter Sunday is the holiest day of the Christian Year. Everything leads to it and everything comes from it. It is a day of reliving our story of salvation and in doing so being resurrected anew.
Here in the Bay Area the cold gray skies do not encourage us to think of spring, but today in the late afternoon the sun burst forth as though in a final victory. Winter is indeed passing, going home to its dark days. The rich green hills, the flowering plum trees, the light lingering longer into the early evening, all give us signs of this transformation.
Just so we slipped from the darkness of Lent and entered the light of Easter’s Resurrection Sunday. This past Holy Week we walked Christ’s way of the cross in Jerusalem. Thursday we celebrated the Lord’s Supper and the great gift of his presence in the Eucharist, then watched breathlessly as the altar and chancel were stripped of their furnishings, the Blessed Sacrament removed as well, the church left silent, dark. We prayed with Christ in the garden, keeping watch before the Altar of Repose with its flaming candles. We faced his trial and his suffering as he carried his cross to Golgotha, the place of the skull. We stood with Mary, his mother, the young steadfast John, and the devoted Magdalene, at the foot of his cross. We heard his words of forgiveness and saw him breathe his last.
This is the catholic way, to live the story of our salvation. So that three days after that Good Friday, with him we rise from the dead. We cry Alleluia, Christ our Lord is risen today! Our triumpant holy day! And with him, we know, we will rise too.
This morning I checked on the children in the Sunday School where they gathered, placing cut flowers in baskets brought from home and gardens, then I returned to the hushed nave of the church. The sanctuary was all whites, the altar covered in lilies. Candles burned brightly and light streamed from the high windows, bathing the chancel. Soon the thick white Easter Cross with its deeply bored holes was carried to the head of the central aisle. The children processed up the red-carpeted aisle, carrying their flowers, as the people sang. When they reached the white cross they shoved the stems into the deep holes. Soon the white beams were covered in reds and yellows and greens and pinks and blues, a floral rainbow. The dark deep holes were no more, only beds for those bursting blossoms of color.
And so, I thought later, as I moved through my day of family gathering, our humanity is realized once again. The story of who we are, children of God, now redeemed, is told. Again and again, we emerge from the dark, we correct our wrong turns, we are sorry, we repent. Again and again, we embrace the light and set out anew. We walk our own way of the cross, know our own sufferings as we journey through life. I studied each face at my dinner table this afternoon, each etched with a past and each looking to his or her future. I knew that we could still choose that future, choose the mapping, as we came to each crossroads of choice, each moment of each hour of each day of each week. We may not choose wisely or selflessly. We may not be brave or kind. We may not simply love enough.
But with the help of God we will recognize the darkness and we will turn toward the light. We will emerge from our tombs and be reborn, again and again, until finally, we find ourselves in Paradise. Until finally, we find ourselves truly resurrected.
Deo Gratias. Alleluia.