Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPRYRen7Kqg
Notes for Easter 2020 Recording
Dennis Knight, Minister, Pakachoag Church
Scarcely ever has the reassuring Easter message of redemption and restoration been more yearned for than in this, the year which surely will be documented as that of the Corona virus pandemic.
At the same time, the claims of the Easter faith, life beyond the grave in all its forms, seem incomprehensible or even fantastical when set against the realities all about us. Chaos, disorder, confusion, confinement, and yes death itself, seem at the moment to hold sway and it is tempting to say all that is at hand contradicts any reasoned conviction in an Easter faith.
Still, our tradition documents other moments in time when the earth itself shook in all manner of ways, sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively, and with that turmoil human spirits as well were cast into regions bleak and bereft of hope. Still and always, though, sometimes a remnant, and sometimes a whole people, survived to carry on and rebuild and create new worlds. And it is to that goal that we offer ourselves in this moment. We pray that we might find our way to firm ground guided by timeless truths.
So in these next moments in simple and modest ways, largely through the medium of music voiced through this magnificent instrument speaking at the behest of organist Brenda Salvi, we offer forth this music and these words that those who seek nurture and fortification may find a measure of that here, beginning with that great hymn of triumph, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”
182 “Christ the Lord is Risen Today
Verse three of hymn we just heards reads in part, “Love’s redeeming work is done,” with the words following in verse four, “Soar we now where Christ has led, Following our exalted Head.”
This year we greet Easter in the midst of great struggle. Our work this year is not done. It continues, and continues for some under great stress.
So on this day, let us pray for those who cannot pause to sing alleluia, or more, cannot find the voice even to utter alleluia. Let us pray for those who stand at bedsides and tend the stricken. For those who are working to maintain the civil order. For those who are on their knees before empty cupboards clutching empty pay envelopes. For those separated from family and loved ones, knowing they and their kin are asked to endure in solitude and isolation.
Let those of us who are able, stand forward and offer every strength we have to those crying to be released this Easter day.
In the manner of the next hymn, “Come, ye faithful, raise the strain Of Triumphant gladness. God hath brought God’s Israel Into joy from sadness.” Let us offer ourselves to the work of transforming sadness into joy.
185 “Come, Ye faithful, Raise the Strain
Easter is not simply an event, it is a commission. We are not merely bystanders or observers to a staged tableau. Rather we are agents, members of the cast, in a drama that is moving through history and in the course of that movement, changing history and altering lives.
This year in particular, it is as if a rockslide has blocked the mouth of the tomb and we are called as reservists in the night to help clear the debris.
This Easter, everyone is enrolled. The full ensemble has been summoned to action as we strive as one, pushing forward, knowing the day will be long before we can claim this final victory on behalf of everyone in distress this year.
We must be single minded as we move forward, unbroken in spirit and unwavering in resolve.
The hymn, “The Day of Resurrection” petitions that “Our hearts be pure from evil, That we may see aright,” and that we may hear “so calm and plain.” These are attributes that befit anyone who would be true, of those who would serve without wavering. Let our vision be as that belonging to ones standing in the morning light, sighting rays of hope that promise a fullness to a day yet to come, and let us move forward with a clarity of purpose that will carry us truly to a place of victory.
192 “The Day of Resurrection”
Easter is not a onetime occurrence, but is more a touchstone to which we can return over and over for hope and inspiration when all seems dismal and bleak and without promise. The recounting of the first Easter is cast at daybreak, not sunset. Easter is as a germinating seed, or as often symbolized, a chrysalis, a butterfly emerging from a pupal state. It is the first word of a sentence, with many more words to follow
Easter as a concept is transformative. It is empowering . It is enabling. It is fortifying.
It has the capacity as described in words penned to accompany Handel’s great tune, “Judas Maccabeus,” to “scatter[s] fear and gloom.” The same text petitions, “Aid us in our strife,”and “bring us safe through Jordon.
So I suggest we greet this Easter, as all Easters, as an event that was, an event that is, and an event that is to be.”
* * *
Blessing to you and your family and those you love, and all others wherever they dwell, and especially to ones who are isolated or feel frightened and anxious at this time. May you all experience joy this Easter day, even if that joy comes to you only as a single ray of light in an otherwise cloud encrusted sky. A special blessing to those who have spread and continue to spread a mantle of care and comfort to persons who have been afflicted. And to those who have experienced loss of dear ones, we receive your tears with compassion in our hearts and offer our warmest benediction to you and godspeed to the spirits of your beloved as indeed we commend those souls who have no one to mourn them to the everlasting care of the one who receives us all and calls us by name. Amen
193 “Thine Is the Glory”