April 01, 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Christ is Risen indeed! Let us celebrate the Good News together.
While we were on pilgrimage in the Holy Land this year, we had several opportunities to worship together as a large group in public spaces. On more than one of these occasions, we attracted the attention of curious onlookers as well as faithful followers. At the Garden of Gethsemane, we even had a cat come near the Holy Communion Table to check out the bread!
Especially notable were the visitors to the Garden Tomb, where we gathered for a celebration of the Resurrection, sharing in a Holy Communion service.
As we assembled in our corner of the garden, just a few feet away from us a vibrant congregation was singing Easter songs in Spanish and praising the living Lord. In another direction, a young couple was exchanging marriage vows. And, as we opened our service with a Resurrection song, two Filipina women stopped in their tracks, beaming with smiles in recognition of the familiar melody. They joined us, singing boldly.
Later in that service, as my colleague the Rev. Jill Colley Robinson and I shared in the Holy Communion liturgy, a young boy, somewhere between 10 and 12 years old, was in the garden collecting cans and other items to recycle.
He inched closer and closer to us as we offered the words of institution and extended the invitation to come share in Christ's holy meal. His curiosity was palpable ... clearly, he wasn't sure what to make of our gathering – the songs, the words, the bread.
We invited him to join us, but he shyly rushed off before sharing in the meal. Still, I pray that we were a living witness of Christ's love for him.
As we celebrate Easter in our homes, churches, and communities, we cannot help but acknowledge that people in our communities are looking to us to share the story of the Resurrection.
One of the questions asked by Jesus on the first Easter morning was "Who is it you are looking for?" (John 20:15) Like Jesus, we, too, are challenged to ask the world around us “Who or what are you looking for?”
Reflecting on our experience at the Garden Tomb, the excitement of our Colombian brothers and sisters as they sang Easter hymns with gusto challenged me to wonder if I have the same excitement.
When I saw the inquisitiveness and joy of my Filipina sisters, I asked myself if I am willing to stop in my own spiritual journey and join others outside my own faith community as would Jesus, who reaches out to all people, irrespective of their background.
How do we make our prayers, songs, and actions so powerful and inviting that children, youth, young adults – people of all ages – watching from a distance, will not rush away, but join us in our Christian witness?
May I share with you an Easter prayer composed with the help of a fellow pilgrim to the Holy Land. It is my hope and prayer it helps us in our Easter journey today and throughout the Easter season.
Oh Risen Christ,
who is looking for us
before we are looking for you:
Was that you —
in the wide-eyed wonder of the child,
in the face behind the soldier’s uniform.
Was that you —
in the birds’ music and the worshippers’ songs,
in the stranger on the other side of the river,
we were forbidden to cross?
Oh Risen Christ,
who sees us
before we see you:
Was that you who came to us —
at the unexpected time,
in the unsuspecting person.
Was that your —
graffiti written on the city walls
as you first called the twelve.
Was that you who met us —
in bread and wine,
Oh Risen Christ, help us —
to love what we see;
to become what we receive,
and to know you,
as the One who lives among us!
Inspire, stir, encourage, challenge us —
to blossom in God’s glory.
to love with your compassion,
to move as the free blowing wind of your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Prema joins me in wishing you and your families and loved ones a happy, blessed and joyful Easter.
In Christ's love,
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar