From the Pastor …
Here you will find notes from Rev. Laura Bachmann from the weekly email blasts and from our monthly Harbinger newsletter.
Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: “I saw the Master!” And she told them everything he said to her. John 20:18
My friends, we have arrived at last at Easter Day – Jesus is risen, and we, too, can say that we have seen the Master. What a glorious reminder this season is of the possibility of life and hope growing from even the darkest depths of despair and discouragement and pain. Our scripture yesterday came from Mark’s gospel, where the original ending does not yet find Mary able to tell what she has seen. In that reading, she stands with fear and trembling in the liminal space between Jesus’ death and his resurrection. As we too stand in a liminal space between our pandemic fear and isolation and the new life and hope represented by our vaccine, perhaps we have a special resonance with Mary in this moment. It is time for us to go out and tell the good news of Jesus’ resurrection, but we may still be finding our new equilibrium of hope following the dark days of our pandemic losses. As we each adjust to the emerging world we hope soon to inhabit, let us look for the places where God’s Spirit has already inspired transformation and new growth. Where can we partner with our community to bring relief to our neighbors who suffer? Where can we lean deeper into our relationship with God to build resilience and energy for the work ahead? Where can we embrace hope as we plan for an unknown future?
April 2021 Harbinger
In a few days, our Lent of Listening will burst forth from its quiet contemplation into the celebration of Easter with jubilant shouts of “He is risen!” This year, especially, my soul longs to hear the good news that God has triumphed, even over death, to bring new life and possibility to our weary lives.
Of course, we cannot fully appreciate the joy of Easter without also experiencing the pain and brokenness of holy week. A pain and brokenness I think we all feel keenly right now. This year especially, images from Jesus’ last days seem particularly vibrant. A few stand out most starkly: the anguish of a trusted friend’s betrayal; the humiliation of being made a laughingstock before one’s own people; the torture of being nailed to a cross and left to die. As the story unfolds, we witness the shame of denying a friend to save one’s self; we hurt alongside the deep grief of watching one’s child be executed; we resonate with the fear instilled when empire destroys a triumphant movement of the people.
This year, I feel a heightened resonance with the darkest moments of holy week. I feel the hurt of half a million voices now fallen silent, lives lost that would have brought great riches of creativity and love, friendship and energy and expression to our world. I feel the pain of our Black neighbors crying out for freedom from violence and the right to move safely through the world. I feel the hopelessness of jobs and homes lost, careers upended, the looming threat of hunger and eviction erasing years of hard work and dedication. I see the weariness of families pulled in too many directions and unable to provide all that is needed as teacher, employee, spouse, and friend.
My friends, the hope of our faith, the joy of our Easter, the roots of our God’s promised resurrection, lie exactly in these dark and discouraging places of brokenness and pain. Anchored in the full reality of what it means to be human, is God’s steadfast promise that Easter always comes. New life cannot be held back. Hope will not be denied.
As we emerge from this year of pandemic pain, God invites us to cling to the new hope embodied in our Easter celebration. Even as we mourn and rebuild; even as we long for rest and cannot see a way back, God has been here before us. Jesus walks the road beside us. The hope of our faith, indeed the promise of our faith, is that at the end of lament comes new life, new hope, new joy – not as a denial of what has come before but as a reflection of what can nevertheless still be. In the already/not yet experience of being an Easter people, we live in a broken world that also holds God’s abiding presence and steadfast promise that we will not be alone. The unique power of the resurrection lies in its refusal to deny the profound suffering and brokenness of our world, while also anchoring directly within that pain a new hope that God holds out for all to seize.
As we welcome the Easter season, let us reach forward with both hands to grasp this hope. Let us look around with open hearts for the new life God will offer us. Let us commit to boldly following wherever the Spirit will lead. He is risen, my friends! He is risen, indeed. Halleluiah.
© 2021 Rev. Laura Bachmann
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