April Pastoral Letter
Dear people of God:
I recently read a story about a Presbyterian pastor who suffered through and ultimately recovered from COVID-19. She described the ordeal, including her family’s fear that she would not live, and concluded that she has “deep insights of dismay” that she would not have imagined a year ago. That phrase, “deep insights of dismay,” no doubt expresses for many of you the experience of the past year and possibly the annual experience of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.
This year’s Good Friday evening service, available only via webcast on Friday, April 2 and thereafter, is our attempt to make the connection between the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and the experience of the past year. We have experienced sickness, loneliness, anger, fear, and death; and we are experiencing renewal. The use of psalms, visual images, and music in a way that links Good Friday to Easter, and the subtle (or not!) detail that at the end of the Good Friday service I’m wearing my Easter robes: these are part of our design.
In other words, I don’t think of the Crucifixion of Jesus as something that happened only on that hill two millennia ago; it recurs in us when we experience sickness, loneliness, anger, fear, and death. And I don’t think of the Resurrection of Jesus as something that happened only in that garden two millennia ago; it recurs in us when we experience renewal.
I hope in the coming months you will share with me your stories of renewal. Has the pandemic simply been something to get through, with no lasting effect other than losing a year of your life? Or has it resulted in something good, some form of renewal in your life that would not have come otherwise?
Without the Passion and death of Jesus, there would have been no Resurrection. That is, I am convinced, not simply a truism: it is a fundamental reality of the universe. Only with loss can there be renewal. And so: Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
A blessed Easter to you.