Sunday, April 1, 2018

And Peter.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate the season.

It is a high holiday in the church’s calendar. The time when the death of Jesus and resurrection of the Christ is remembered.

Life is bursting out. In upstate New York, we have been snow covered for many weeks. This week the temperatures have gone slightly above freezing and it has started to melt. Yesterday Andy and I enjoyed clear blue skies and bright sunshine. It was a day to watch new life bursting out around us.

Our morning time in the hot tub was punctuated by bird song —cardinals, blue jays, tufted titmice, chickadees, doves, robins and a red-bellied woodpecker. Red and grey squirrels, chipmunks and even rabbits scurried around our lawn. It felt like our whole back garden was alive.

Later Andy and I walked with the pugs. We spotted more birds, a pair of kestrels, an indigo bunting, geese preparing to nest on the lake. A fox ran across our path. Daffodils were pushing through the hardened ground. Trees were starting to bud. All around was the promise of new life.

I know—if the forecast is correct— that there are going to be more below freezing temperatures and snowy days. But for today, the hope and promise of new life are worth celebrating.

I think that is the Easter message. The hope and promise of life bursting through. 

Last weekend Andy and I, along with thousands more around the world, attended the “March for Our lives” rally. It was organized and attended by many young people. Like the daffodils pushing through the hardened ground this was a symbol of the promise of hope and new life for the next generation. 

With this cycle of lectionary readings, I am pausing with the text and seeing which words remain with me. I ponder them, let them ferment for a few hours, and consider what they mean to me and if they speak in contemporary society. As I read the gospel passage this week two words jumped out “And Peter” (Mark 16:1-8).

I found these two words a very powerful message of inclusion. I’m sure we have all said or done things that we later regret, I know I have. It leaves a very uncomfortable feeling in one’s body and mind. A deep wish that one could go back and change things. I think Peter must have felt awful: ashamed, embarrassed and desolate. In the story, he had denied knowing Jesus, he had declared that he was not one of the followers. I’m sure he relived that moment many times and wished he had done things differently.
Then came the message to the disciples that Christ would see them in Galilee. Yet, the deliverer of the message specifically including Peter — “Go tell his disciples and Peter” (7). The promise, the hope of new life was for everyone. No one was excluded, not Peter, not the women who remained at the tomb and received the message. 

I think these words —and Peter— can be read in two different ways. Both are important for us today. The first way is that it was a message to Peter. That no matter how awful he felt, no matter what he had done. He was included. I’m sure his heart leapt for joy when he heard that, hope would be rekindled and new life promised. The second way of reading it was that it was a message for everyone else. It affirmed to the disciples and other friends that no-one was excluded from this promise of new life.

It is a powerful Easter message of inclusion for contemporary society. 

Happy Easter.