St. John of Damascus, called the golden tongued doctor of the church, an Arabian, a Christian, a priest, and mystic monk, reflected in the eighth century on the Easter feast:
Thou hallowed chosen day! That firstThe Holy life of Jesus, the Holy Meal with friends, the Holy Cross alone, and the Holy Tomb have birthed for us (our friends, our families, the church, for all of creation) a new life of freedom and resurrection. Whereas the cross was the end of bondage to sin and death, and the invitation to live a new transformed life; the empty tomb is our new beginning, our recreation. In the empty tomb we find the nativity of Christian faith and the renewal of Creation through communion with God and reconciliation with one another.
And best and greatest shinest!
Lady and Queen and feast of feasts,
Of things divine, divinest!
On thee our praises Christ adore,
For ever and for evermore.
Come, Let us taste the vine’s new fruit
For heavenly joy preparing:
In this propitious day, with Christ
His resurrection sharing:
Whom as true God our hymns adore
For ever and for evermore.
We inherit from our faith ancestors an experience of a new and more powerful presence of Jesus Christ. Centered in Jerusalem and in ever expanding circles like the ripples in a pond, the resurrected Jesus appears in different ways to those who love him. He appears to them as traveler along the road and in the midst of locked lives tucked away in upper rooms. Jesus was present powerfully and emphatically. This resurrection and the experience of Christ led the first Christians to pronounce a new covenant story that includes an ever embracing family of God.
Today, we are beckoned to join the resurrected Christ in a newly planted Garden of Eden. We claim resurrection as stewards in God’s creation. We are the family of god, and God is with us as we seek to recreate, renew and restore God’s creation. We do not claim the work of the cross, the empty tomb and the garden for ourselves alone but for the whole of creation. We are at work in God’s garden, we are the workers in the field, the sower of seeds, and God’s human hands at work in the world.
Formed in the Episcopal Church and later a Roman Catholic, pacifist, suffragette and the founder of the Catholic Worker movement, Dorothy Day understood the work of the resurrected community of Christ.
We must practice the presence of God. [She wrote.] He said that when two or three are gathered together, there He is in the midst of them. He is with us in our kitchens, at our tables, on our breadlines, with our visitors, on our farms…”
[She said:] What we would like to do is change the world – make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. Add to a certain extent, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the worker, of the poor, of the destitute – the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words – we can to a certain extent change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever-widening circle will reach around the world.
In the season of Easter we share in and offer to the world resurrection. Our eyes are focused. Our vision is clearer. Our hymns, our prayers, and our worship adore Christ and encourage us out into a world desperate to hear the voice of a loving living freeing God.
This Easter, most hallowed of days, queen of feasts, all creation resounds in shouts of praise and thanksgiving feeling and knowing that from east and west and north and south, the great family of God is being gathered in so that it may be sent out. You and I are changed in the emptying of Christ’s tomb, and as we gather in the sunlight of a new Easter garden we see that the world is changed…forever and forevermore...