Bishop Russell's message for the season of Easter
"And it was evening on that day, the first day of the week and the doors of a house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you.'"
They were locked up for fear of the Jews. I suspect there was a lot more going on in that room than just that life as they knew it was over. Their hearts were shattered, and they had no idea what to do next. There were whispers that Jesus was alive. If Jesus is alive, that means everything he said was true. No telling what he might do next. Then there he is "peace be with you" - shalom - which means behold, be put back together. In that moment, Jesus indeed puts his friends back together, but he does so much more. He ushers in what we call a new creation, a resurrected life, and he invites his followers into this resurrected life which is far more than what they've been living. Simply, it means that there's always more to life beyond every death, every suffering. Every moment in life there's more, and that more is beautiful and valuable.
About a month ago I learned about a Japanese form of art called kintsugi. Kintsugi is the process of taking broken ceramic vessels and putting them back together with a special lacquer. By taking the shards and gluing them together with this resin that is mixed in with gold. It harkens back to the fifteenth century. As the story is told, there was a military ruler who had a very rare Chinese bowl and it shattered. So he sent it back to China to be repaired. When it was returned to him repaired, it was put together by metal staples. The Japanese artisans were so offended by the ugliness, that they set about to create a way to put together the broken shards in a way that was even more beautiful and more valuable than before. Kintsugi honors the fact that the broken parts of our lives are not meant to be hidden, replaced or disguised, but are a part of our story and they were beautiful.
When we took the best that God could give us and we killed him, God could have made a different decision and tossed us away so to speak. But God made a different choice. To restore us. In place of gold think of grace. Grace is the seam of mercy. It puts us together again, and puts us back together in a way that is even more beautiful and more valuable than before. Easter is the day of Jesus's resurrection in which we are made whole, put back together. But even more, we are invited to an entirely new way of life into a new creation. We are the vessels that God has redeemed and remade in a way that is of great beauty and value. In other words, our life matters to God and our life matters for God . For now we are invited to join God in the ongoing work of redemption and restoration and resurrection. We are invited by God to join in this work of beauty to be peacemakers, to work for mercy and to bear forth in our life the power of love and the gift of grace. So let the work of Easter begin and continue through us.
Let us pray. Almighty and everlasting God who, in the Paschal mystery, established the new covenant of reconciliation. Granted all who've been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's body, may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen