Living into Easter
Lent is an important part of our liturgical year and a profound part of our spiritual journey, but, even though we should be attracted to the culmination of the Lenten journey – the joy of Easter–it often feels hard to live into. For, much of Lent makes practical sense. We have fallen short. We have not done the good that we wanted, but have, instead, done that which we did not want to do. We can work on that. We can try harder. We can implement new ways of doing things. Lent appeals to our human desire to ‘fix’ things, to solve problems, and to work toward the betterment of ourselves. But, of joy, or its more moderated cousin, happiness, we are less adept. The pursuit of happiness seems to remain floating above our heads like an amorphous cloud, and, if we know anything at all about joy, we are pretty sure that it is fleeting, fragile, ephemeral. But as people of faith, we know that joy is what Jesus’ ministry was all about. In John 15 we read:
My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
It would seem, then, that part of living as people of God means living into the joy of Easter as well. And we do that by abiding in God. Abide (yashab), in its Hebrew or Aramaic understanding, is one of my favorite words in scripture. It means to sit, remain, dwell. So we are to sit with, remain with and dwell within God’s love. Think about that for a moment: we are to live within God’s love. And yet, we are often not good at sitting or remaining or simply dwelling.
Our modern usage of this word shows our prejudice – when we use the word ‘abide’ today we think more about bearing something patiently, tolerating, enduring, withstanding something or waiting for it (Merriam Webster). Living within is relegated to the past – as in the antiquated past tense of the verb abide – ‘abode.’ But the joy of Easter – the joy of the disciples of Christ-is about the present. And it is about living in and dwelling within God’s love now, throughout the fifty days of Easter and all the time.
So how do we do that? In John 15, Jesus tells us what to do: if we keep his commandments, we will abide in his love. So, it might serve us well to start there and ponder on what we know about Jesus’ commandments. First of all, we know that Jesus does not do away with the commandments of Moses. So, we should continue to follow those. And to make it a little easier, Jesus gives us a summary of what the Mosaic law means – namely to love God with all our heart, mind, spirit, and strength and to love one another as ourselves. And finally, Jesus gives us his new commandment. Jesus tells us that we are to love one another even as he has loved us. If we do these things, we are promised the joy of Jesus. So for those of us who like practical plans, joy is all laid out. And yet, we sometimes aren’t really sure how to follow this plan. And that is when we need Jesus’ help, not only to live as he lived, but also to live as he lives.
What do I mean by that? The resurrection of Jesus changed everything. As Gerald M. Fagin notes, through his resurrection, Jesus promises us three things: that he is alive and present with us, that death has been conquered, and that our human lives are important, valuable and good.
Our lives are important, valuable and good. In the Apostles’ Creed we affirm that we believe in the “resurrection of the body.” As we say these words we may give little thought about what we mean. But what that means is that the resurrected Lord was raised as both body and soul. Throughout the season of Easter, we hear the stories of Jesus coming to his disciples. He invites them to touch him – to feel the marks of the nails in his hands, to put their hands in his side. He eats with them. He walks with them.He is corporeal. He has come back but not as Lazarus was raised – to live a human life again – but he has risen in a new way. God has taken on our humanity, transformed it and raised it to new life in God. Jesus did not take on our human body and then leave it behind in his resurrection. Rather, Jesus retained his whole humanity and united it within his divinity. In Jesus’ resurrection we are assured that God understands, knows and values our human condition. And out of Christ’s understanding and love, we can be certain that a “profound unity forever exists between God and the world, between spirit and matter.” We can live in Christ, because Christ lives in us. And if we abide in Christ, our joy can be complete. The joy of Easter isn’t a problem we need to solve or a nut we can crack; the joy of the disciples of Christ is about being present. It is about sitting with, living in, and dwelling within the love of Jesus Christ now. Throughout the fifty days of Easter and all the time.
The Rev. Ruth Anne Garcia
Theology Round Tables on the Christian Sacraments
We just experienced the death and resurrection of Jesus through our Easter services. In one of those services, the Great Vigil, there were readings reminding us of the covenants God has made – to Adam and Eve, to Noah and all the creatures of earth, to Abraham and all his descendants, to Moses and all Israel and finally the Davidic covenant that culminated with Jesus as the Messiah. The fulfillment of Davidic covenant is the New Covenant. The Book of Common Prayer defines the New Covenant as “the new relationship with God given by Jesus Christ , the Messiah, to the apostles; and, through them, to all who believe in him” (see p 850 BCP). In this new covenant, the Messiah promises to us, the believers, to bring us into the kingdom of God. But what did God require of us in return – what’s our responsibility in the New Covenant? The answer is simple – “Christ commands us to believe in him and to keep his commandments” (BCP p 851).
One way we can express our belief and a way to remind us of Christ’s commandments is our practice, with purpose, the holy sacraments. In fact, the BCP, explains “the sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace”.
So as we continue to celebrate the joy of Easter, the adult forum during the Everybody Hour in April and May will take a sacrament and explore it in our Round Table format. Please join us and invite your friends and family to get introduced or re-acquainted with these “outward and visible signs” of our Christian beliefs.
April 15 – Eucharist
April 22 – Confirmation
April 29 – Reconciliation
May 13 – Priesthood
May 20 – Unction
May 27 – Marriage
Did you get a chance to attend the Taizé service at Epiphany during Holy Week? So beautiful! If you loved it, or if you missed it, not to worry- we’re starting a monthly Taizé service in the Chapel at 8 pm on 3rd Tuesdays beginning April 17!
Taizé music is the beautiful simple chant we sing sometimes during communion. Taizé music was developed by the monastic community of Taizé in southern France. Founded after WWII to pray for peace, the Taizé community is the only ecumenical monastery in the world which is authorized by both the Anglicans and the Roman Catholics. Along with this spirit of ecumenism, Epiphany is part of a group of churches in Seattle which is organizing to offer Taizé somewhere in Seattle every week. We will host on the third Tuesday of each month.
The Taizé service will be a simple candlelit prayer service in the Chapel. We’ll mostly be singing together with the help of a piano and a cantor, but there will be a few prayers and we will also sit together in one long period of silence in the middle of the service. It’s a deeply peaceful experience open to all. The service will last 35-40 minutes.
Questions? Interested in helping? Contact Diana Bender at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-459-9140
Gala Fundraising Concert & Dinner
April 22 | 6 pm | Chapel & Great Hall | Tickets $100
Jeremy Bacon, Jazz Pianist
The Gala will be an evening of musical frivolity and exquisite food that helps support the Epiphany Seattle Music Guild. The purpose of the Music Guild is to raise funds and publicize Epiphany Seattle Music Guild programs and to support these free events.
For Gala tickets or to sponsor a music event click here.
You’re invited to our Spring Weekend Retreat at St. Andrews House on Hood Canal. You don’t have to come on first Saturdays to come on the weekend retreat! This year the dates at St. Andrews are April 20 to 22, where we will study religious icons with local artist/author, Mary E. Green. She has two books: Eyes to See and Holy Sightings. Recently, the Altar Guild gifted Rev. Kate Wesch with two of Mary Green’s icons. Make time for yourself and come be in the beauty of Hood Canal with us! You will be glad you did.
To register online click here.
Epiphany Vacation Bible Camp
July 9–13, 2018 from 1-4 pm
Vacation Bible Camp (VBC) at Epiphany is a place for all ages to experience God’s love in a safe and welcoming environment.
Bible Storytelling | Crafts | Games | Chapel | Music | Service
To register now, click here.
Third Sunday of Easter
1 John 3:1-7
Click here to view Prayer List