Rev. Mr. Scott S. Woods
Ask most anyone which time of the year is the absolute worst to lose a loved one, and they will likely answer, “Christmas.”It’s true.For most of us, Christmas is about family reuniting from far and wide to enter into the sacred traditions of the season together.The original and perpetual Grinch, death, taints our Christmas cheer and breaks our hearts.
The Christian celebration of Easter, on the other hand, even though it is the feast of all Christian feasts, is not associated with the festivities and nostalgia of Christmases past.That being said, Easter is no less difficult a holiday for mourners to observe because while one may believe in their heart of hearts that Christ’s absolute triumph over death is wholly trustworthy, the heartbroken who have surrendered a loved one to the mystery of death are understandably unlikely to see death as did the beloved Saint Francis of Assisi, who referred to it as the friend that leads the child of God back home.
It is easy to imagine the celebration of Easter as an immense struggle for those who grieve because the resounding anthems of ‘Alleluia, the Lord is risen!’ do not capture the wounded heart’s sentiment.Indeed the day of Resurrection seems an empty promise, a sham perhaps, because in the eyes of the world, death has claimed a decisive victory over loved ones once believed to be invincible.And yet over time as the sting of death begins to subside, eyes of faith are eventually opened to see that the souls of the just are truly in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them (Wis 3:1).
Saint Benedict of Nursia, who wrote a collection of precepts that continue to guide the daily lives of monks throughout the world, admonishes them to keep death daily before their eyes.The wisdom of this abbot whose life spanned the fifth and sixth centuries invites all of us to hope for and work towards everlasting life with the God who loves us into being, sustains us throughout our earthly life, and calls us home to himself at an unknown time.Easter is about that hope to which Benedict calls us.At its very core, the festival of Christ’s Resurrection is about: the faithfulness of the Father, who raised Jesus to new life; the example of the Son who did not shy away from human suffering and pain, but entered into life through his death, and made it possible for us to go where he has gone; and the love of the Spirit who unites us as one body that suffers together when one part or another is hurting (1 Cor 12:26).
This Easter we celebrate Christ’s rising from the dead, which is our hope and our destiny.The pain of human loss is real; so too is the promise of life eternal.May Mary, the Mother of Sorrows, who cradled the lifeless body of her only Son in her arms, pray for us who mourn the loss of loved ones this Easter, and continue to lead us to that same Christ who is the Resurrection and the Life.
Rev. Paul E. Myers
Here we are making our way through Lent, leading up to Easter. Jesus Christ knew the cross was before Him. As he led his Apostles, they were not aware of what was going on. Here you and I are in our journey and we know the what, where, when and why of what Christ went through. Yet we struggle in our walk through life. Jesus went before us. He paved the way. He showed his compassion for persons who did not fully comprehend what was happening. Do we fully understand? So Lent is the time when we deepen our relationship to God, knowing that our Lord Jesus is walking with us. Lent is the time to spend time in prayer, read scripture, fellowship with believers, taking time every day saying to God, Lord what will we do today? How can I become more of the person you want me to be? Lord show me that way. Good Friday is a few weeks yet. A. B. C. cartoon had two cavemen talking. First one says "I hate Good Friday". The other says, "Why?" The first says: "My Lord was hanged on a tree that day." The other said, "If you was going to be hanged on that day, and He volunteered to take your place, How would you feel?" First person said, "Good." The second said, "Have a nice day." Christ became our sacrificial lamb. In John 1:29 The next day John (the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." The weight of the sins of the world weighed heavy on Christ as He suffered and died on the cross. Three days later the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ was seen as the women found the tomb empty. So Jesus Christ is alive and working in this world. As the two disciples on the Road to Damascus, said "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the scripture to us?" Luke 24:32. May that burning desire come upon us this Lent and Easter Season. He is alive! Yes, He is Alive! -Paul E. Myers-