The Resurrection must be understood in significantly different images and metaphors in the southern hemisphere, when Easter always arrives in the transition from summer to winter. Even as a hard, hard winter lingers on in northern climes, with unaccustomed April snow in many places, we yearn for the new life we know is waiting around the corner. As Christians, we’re meant to have the same hunger for the new creation emerging all around us.
We can see the broken places of our world either as complete and utter disaster, or as seedbeds – graves, even – in which God is doing a new thing. The situation in Haiti is dire, yet day by day and person by person hope lightens and leavens. Plans are emerging for civic reconstruction in Port-au-Prince that would bless the nation with pride in its heritage and more effective government. The Episcopal Church is a partner in those possibilities, as the vision for a rebuilt cathedral takes form. The graves are becoming gardens, at Cathédrale Sainte-Trinité and Collège St. Pierre. New and more life-giving relationships are emerging between development ministries and the lives of the people. Resurrection is happening in many places, even if one must search for it, like looking for the first buds on the trees as ice and snow give way to the warmth of spring.
The aftermath of earthquake and tsunami in Japan continues to look a great deal like winter, and the trials and failures at Daiichi Fukushima currently resonate more with apocalypse than Easter. Yet across northeastern Japan the work of the faithful is feeding senior citizens, ministering to displaced persons in shelters, and prompting challenging questions about social priorities, energy use, and consumerist lifestyles.
The gift of Easter insists that human beings are capable of divine relationship, for as Athanasius put it, “God became human that human beings might become divine.” The life, death, passion, and resurrection of Jesus are the cosmic insistence that nothing can separate us from the divine passion for humanity. Easter people are imprinted with the assurance that God is always working some new grace of creation out of death and destruction.
For most of us the dying is not cosmic. It may start with a small willingness to set aside self, or a new opportunity for grafting onto a greater whole. Or it may involve lowering the barriers between self and other to become more readily aware of our fundamental oneness, our common heritage as offspring of the Holy One. If we are to be followers of Jesus, we share the work he did on our behalf. We give thanks for the Resurrection, and we become part of Jesus’ ongoing work, as we become aware of its power in our own lives.
May your Eastertide be filled with the grace of new life. Go, discover, and BE resurrection for the world around you.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church