Note: What follows is the text of a theological reflection I offered to and with my parish community of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Spartanburg, SC, last night during the livestream of the Night Service (or Compline) from the New Zealand Book of Common Prayer.
“Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!”
So, we Christians proclaim. Yet, as an inveterate question-asker, I inquire of you, what is it that we proclaim?
Yes, the message of the Christian Church is that Jesus, crucified, died and was raised by God from the grave, thus, bearing unto all who believe the promise of life eternal.
Still, I think, principally, that is, first and foremost, and principle-ly, that is, regarding our individual standards or norms, our personal beliefs, each of us must answer for herself or himself: “What do I mean when I proclaim, ‘Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!’”
Annie Dameron, of blessed memory, was a member of Calvary Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina, where I was privileged to serve as rector during the early to mid-1980s. Truly, a saint of God, Annie was a walking, talking compendium of aphorisms. One being: “No one of us can get to heaven on somebody else’s faith. Each of us must have his or her own.”
Thus, never being one to ask of you that to which I will not give a reply, I share one way that I answer the question: “What do I mean when I proclaim, ‘Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!’” My response is in the form of a poem that I wrote on Easter Day, April 1, 2018, entitled, simply, “Easter.”
Tho’ He said it many times, “The third day I’ll rise,”
still, it came as a surprise
(and surprises still)
when he forsook the tomb,
leaving it barren of His Presence,
leaving His empty linens bearing the Essence
of His corporeal-likeness,
soaked in His sweat,
smeared with His blood.
Why, oh why, when I look into that soul-less cavern,
somehow, I expect Him to appear
(tho’ I’ve never found Him there!)?
Yet, if…when I listen for His voice, I hear
Him calling me, always saying (never “Wait for Me there”, but ever),
“Follow Me wherever I lead you!”
The Easter proclamation is for me an expression of my calling, my commitment to follow Jesus. What is it for you?