By Father Casey
Holy Week was definitely just that, holy. I can’t recall looking forward with so much longing to those sacred liturgies, and experiencing them so intensely. After last year’s Holy Week in diaspora, the ability to be together on campus this year was a tremendous blessing. I realize there may have been certain services you weren’t able to attend, due to our attendance restrictions, but hopefully you were able to avail yourselves of at least one of the solemnly beautiful acts of worship we offered. I hope my promise was not in vain, and if you walked the fullness of Holy Week in worship and prayer, you felt your faith strengthened and your soul renewed.
The highlight for me was the Great Vigil of Easter. Given the extremely early start time (6:30 a.m.), I had cautiously hoped we might have 100 congregants with us. I should have known better – you are a deeply devoted and faithful bunch! – so over 250 were present, including many children. And what a blessing we received for our efforts. As dawn broke around us and birds harmonized with our hymns and chants, we remembered the journey from death to life that Jesus has made possible in his resurrection. Whether or not we ever conduct another sunrise Vigil, who will forget the sight of Rachel DeVey stepping into the huge font and plunging three times beneath the water? Who will forget the sound of the tower bell ringing on top of all our furiously ringing handbells? Who will forget the feeling of singing Alleluias in the midst of a great congregation, after so much separation and hardship?
Friends, as marvelous as it all was, it was more than some momentary happiness after a year of change and stress. What we celebrate this Easter is more than the waning days of a terrible pandemic, or the promise of happier days ahead. When we say, “Alleluia, Christ is risen,” we proclaim the full and complete victory of God everywhere and in everything. It is the promise that the goodness of God will prevail in each and every great struggle in which we are engaged as a world. Racism, injustice, climate change, violence, sickness, poverty…wherever there is a force that opposes the peace and blessing of God, it will not win. When Jesus walked out of that tomb, it was the ultimate assurance that the Kingdom really will be on earth as it is in heaven. Christ always gets the last word, and that means the world-changing, justice-waging, hungry-feeding, sickness-healing, creation-caring love of God gets the last word. Always.
But this should not cause us to stop striving in these contests. There is still profoundly important work for us to do. As we’ll hear again this weekend in the traditional gospel story for the Second Sunday of Easter, the risen Jesus didn’t show up in the locked Upper Room where the disciples were cowering in fear and say, “Relax, guys, I’ve taken care of everything.” No, he breathes the Holy Spirit on them, and then, as they’re still inhaling that divine power, he sends them into the world to do all the things he taught them.
So, I am thankful for all of you, and especially all who gave of their time and energy to help our church experience the holiness of Holy Week. For those who walked the stations, attended a service, kept vigil at the Sacrament, arranged flowers, prepped the Altar, set up chairs, led music, passed out bulletins, delivered communion, and prayed your hearts out. And now, with the same holy breath filling us that filled the disciples long ago, I can’t wait to see how we will join God in bringing more of the promise of Easter to life.