Wednesday, April 4, 2012

From the Potomac to Pasadena: Tick Tock Easter!

by the Reverend Canon Susan Russell

"The great Easter truth
is not that we will be born again someday,
but that we are to be alive here and now
by the power of the resurrection."

'Like us, Jesus knew doubt. Like us, Jesus knew fear,' Obama said. [Reuters]

This morning I drew the 7am service in the Holy Week preaching/presiding lottery here at All Saints Church. Between 7:30am on Palm Sunday and 1:00pm on Easter Day we'll do 28 services. Some of them will have hundreds crammed into every nook and cranny of the church with a video feed reaching others in the "upper room" overflow. Others -- like this morning -- will have 8 or 10 scattered about the chapel with our prayers echoing a bit in the bigness of the mostly empty church.

A service like that calls for less of a sermon and more of a meditation ... so this morning I talked about the cost and promise of this following Jesus thing. The cost Jesus knew he was about to pay for speaking truth to power as he sent Judas out into the night to "do what you are about to do." And the promise Jesus claimed that God was with him -- no matter what. That's the journey we travel -- I said -- as ones who follow Jesus. Not just for 40 days during Lent or only in this week we call Holy ... but throughout our lives. God doesn't promise us it will always be easy -- I said -- but the Easter promise is that the God whose love is stronger even than the powers of death will be with us always ... even when we pay the price for speaking truth to power as we align our lives with God's love, justice and compassion.

After the service I went to my desk at an uncharacteristically early hour and -- over my breakfast of coffee and instant oatmeal -- found this update from the White House on the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says the Easter story of Christ's agony and resurrection has helped him get through the tough moments of an embattled presidency.The president got "Amens" from religious leaders at a White House prayer breakfast in the East Room as he recounted Jesus saying, "In this world, you will have trouble."

Obama says he's among those who sometimes question God's plan for him. But he says that's precisely when he recalls the "triumph" of the Easter story, and Jesus overcoming his doubts and fears before the crucifixion. This is the third year Obama has convened a pre-Easter breakfast meeting. Obama says he hoped for "a little calm before the storm" on Monday when the White House opens its gates to thousands of children for the Easter Egg Roll.
Integrity's Executive Director Harry Knox was one of those "religious leaders at the White House prayer breakfast in the East Room." I hope he got some pictures. And I'll look forward to hearing from him about how he spent his Wednesday in Holy Week.

But this morning ... as I'm finishing up my coffee and oatmeal and getting ready to attack my "Holy Week Hump Day To-Do List" ... I'm intrigued by the continuity of the core message that was preached in the chapel of All Saints Church and proclaimed in the East Room of the White House this Wednesday in Holy Week: The Good News of Easter is with us not just on Easter Sunday but every day of our walk in this troubled world as we go where Jesus went: speaking truth to power and working to make that kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven ... the kingdom of love, justice and compassion that is God's deepest desire for all of us.

Tick Tock Easter!

Susan Russell is a past-president of Integrity and a senior associate at All Saints Church in Pasadena.

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