Monday, April 07, 2008

six weeks and more

Yesterday's Gospel reading was the story of the road to Emmaus, one more of the miraculous accounts of disciples seeing Jesus after his death. I heard a lecture a few years ago (I'm thinking it was James Robinson). He mentioned that there's no clear evidence that Emmaus was an actual place... that in fact it was a word that may have derived from the expression "no place left to go." That would probably have described those disciples pretty well. It doesn't matter. People saw Jesus. Not exactly (nor necessarily) with their eyes, but with the eyes of faith. I think that's important for us today.

Our celebrant said that she was so glad that Eastertide was six weeks long. She explained that clergy often are so wiped out by the end of Holy Week, that they move through Easter in a daze. She appreciated the time to catch up. I echo those sentiments in my own heart. I'm just beginning to feel "Eastery". It is in hearing these resurrection stories again and again that Easter becomes more real for me. It also helps to sing the Easter hymns for six weeks. One of yesterday's was #182 from the Hymnal: Christ is Alive! Often with hymns, some of the verses are optional, either because they fit a certain liturgical calendar or because the theology might be controversial. Verse 3 was one of the optional ones. I loved it:

Christ is alive! Not throned above,
Remotely high, untouched, unmoved by human pains,
But daily in the midst of life our Savior reigns.

The collect for the Third Sunday in Easter asks God to "open the eyes of our faith" to Christ's redeeming work in the world. Why? Because we aren't going to recognize him. We'll be like Mary in the garden, like the Cleopas on his way to Emmaus, we'll see somebody else... a gardener, a stranger with no grasp of current events. We'll miss the risen Christ in our midst because of our own blind expectations.

Eastertide is six weeks long. But for Resurrection Christians, it has to extend into the rest of the year. Only through the eyes of faith can we see Jesus in the stranger and in ourselves.

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