Dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness … Easter
Happy Easter, everyone! I hope your celebration of the Triduum was blessed… For me, I was back for a few days at Fisher House – the university chaplaincy in Cambridge, and for three years, my second home. It was quite amazing to be back, the place holds so many memories for me. Particularly special was celebrating the Easter Vigil at 4am on Easter morning… an unforgettable and joyful experience, followed by sausages and Prosecco for breakfast.
Since yesterday’s beautiful morning, I have been pondering the words of the Exsultet (one of my favourite lines is in the title) and contemplating in my heart how the Resurrection changes everything. We sing of how great our Redeemer is, how he has conquered death, how
“Christ broke the prison-bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld”
I have been asking myself: Do I live as though the Resurrection is real?
Do I live as though life has the last word, not death? Does the undercurrent of worry, the background noise of insecurity, reveal that, deep down, I do not fully believe Christ and his love are the last word? Am I afraid of suffering, as though death and pain ultimately hold sway? Or do I ward off disaster by relying on my own ability to plan and anticipate? Have I ring-fenced corners of my life for myself, hiding them from God, because deep down I believe that giving him “access all areas” leads to pain and death, rather than love and life? Do I lack trust in the power of Christ’s Resurrection by taking matters into my own hands, and fighting battles that are not mine to fight?
As Sherry Weddell recently commented, Easter Sunday happens, “And then I go right back to my normal, anxious life that I put on hold in order to make room for the extra Lenten effort. Only now, ’cause it’s No-Longer-Lent, I can have that triple grande mocha latte along with my anxiety.”
Lent is easier to live because we ‘know’ suffering, it is part of our natural experience of living. Easter is harder to live because it’s the reality of glorious joy such that we rarely ‘know’. We might glimpse it… it may pierce through into our lives at the odd, dazzling moment. This is the life of Heaven, the eternal moment of love, the life we are made for. And the fifty days till Pentecost are a fantastic opportunity to start practising living it… What does this mean practically? I would suggest a few things this means:
- Perhaps our best-laid plans go awry… This is the moment to make an act of trust in God our Father, knowing his plan is one for flourishing and not disaster (Jeremiah 29:11)
- Are we faced with a situation where God is asking us to step out and evangelise? It feels like too much to emerge from our comfort zone… But God unceasingly honours our stepping out, supplying what is needed (Luke 12:12)
- Perhaps suffering comes our way – small or big… This is the moment to recall with trust that God permits this and will turn it into good. The Resurrection convinces us that in such a situation, we can even praise God, knowing his will is good (Romans 8:18)
- In a moment of suffering or disappointment, let us consciously recall the joy of our salvation. In Bl Mother Teresa’s words, “Never let anything so fill with you pain or sorrow, so as to make you forget the joy of Christ risen.”
- Perhaps discouragement is threatening to consume us. In this moment, we can intentionally choose joy, hope… Does this feel impossible? Undoubtedly, but obedience makes possible the impossible. And God loves and honours our obedience (Philippians 4:6)
Do you know what? I think this challenge is comparable to the fasting we set ourselves for Lent. If we are intentional about our penance, why not be intentional about learning to live the life of joy and glory?
“The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal his sons. It was not for any fault on the part of creation that it was made unable to attain its purpose, it was made so by God; but creation still retains the hope of being freed, like us, from its slavery to decadence, to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God. From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free. For we must be content to hope that we shall be saved – our salvation is not in sight, we should not have to be hoping for it if it were – but, as I say, we must hope to be saved since we are not saved yet – it is something we must wait for with patience.” (Romans 8:19-25)
If you want to take this challenge seriously, head over to “Easter Challenge” on the Forming Intentional Disciples Forum on Facebook.