Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!
The strangeness of hearing this annual call and response from the tinny tininess of a computer's speaker arrests me. Oh, to hear the voices of this parish shouting it with as one! But the difference between this Easter and last! Last year those first weeks of the pandemic cast a pall of fear and strangeness over Easter like none in my lifetime. But, this Easter offers us anticipation and joy because we might just be coming to the end of this unholy pandemic.
What will the months ahead hold for us? What will our gradual transition back to social normalcy look and feel like? Will normal ever really return? Our faith teaches us that Easter is a sign of Divine triumph. Death, no matter how still, cold or seemingly permanent was broken of its power on Easter Day. We are no longer prisoners of death's bleak thrall. We are raised with Christ to a new life and a new kind of living even if a pandemic should last a thousand years. We Christians have both the right and the responsibility to pattern our lives in whatever new normal reflecting the Easter confidence of Christ himself; living without fear or dread of death's broken power.
But what lessons will we bring with us? What have we learned over this last year that we should carry with us into this new season. I hope that you experienced Christ's presence amidst this year of suffering. I hope that you saw in suffering not godforsakeness, but I hope you witnessed Christ, the Sufferer, walking with us as both pattern and pioneer. Friends, suffering will find us again, perhaps not on such a universal scale, but it will find us in the days ahead. As Christ is risen indeed, so Christ suffered indeed. And as He suffered and triumphed, I hope we can see in our own suffering Christ the Sufferer and Christ the Risen Conqueror. May He be our model and our hope for whatever we meet in the days ahead.