Easter Sunday – April 20, 2014
|Reading 1:||Reading 2:||Reading 3:||Reading 4:||Alternate Reading 1:||Alternate Reading 2:|
|Acts 10:34-43||Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24||Colossians 3:1-4||John 20:1-18||Jeremiah 31:1-6||Matthew 28:1-10|
By Ignacio Castuera
This is the day when preachers have the opportunity to speak to many who come to church only for the “high holidays” of our faith. The Scriptures provided for pastors are chock full of opportunities to make a lasting impression on those who come infrequently. On the other hand, the faithful flock also needs to hear the eternal message of EasterEcology, with new angles, new vigor, well, new life!
All the texts provided for this Sunday provide resurrection opportunities. Jeremiah’s text talks about the universality of God’s love built on the keeping of promises to the children of ancient Israel. The Psalm reading invites people to welcome this particular day, but also to see the same particularity in every day. The Epistle reminds the followers of Christ, presumably the baptized, that if they have been risen from the dead with Jesus then they must pursue resurrection activities.
Whatever else one is to do this Easter the Gospel of John presents a reading that invites a feminist interpretation. In Greek (and even in English) one can see the editing cuts of the story of Jesus and Mary in the Garden. Maybe the Gospel writer was not a bad editor, he might have really wanted all to know that the masculine version of the story which was so prevalent and was gaining force, was not the real one but that the personal, intimate garden story had been hijacked for hierarchical purposes. (A race between a presumably younger beloved disciple and an older Peter, obviously won by the young one who still defers to the eventual first Pope to go in and see for himself?!?!) I will take the intimate, loving story over the race any time.
Whatever preachers finally decide to do, I would hope they at least include a note of comfort and strength for those who have lost loved ones during the long winter months. When I was a child in Mexico I heard the adults say Enero y Febrero desviejadero. (January and February older people die.) The winter months have on the average more than 100,000 deaths than all the other months. The Easter faith has a message of compassion and care for those who mourn and this chance must not be missed. But, in this troubled time when we are threatened with ecological catastrophe we cannot ignore the symbol of the story of Easter set in a Garden. I encourage pastors to look at Marjorie Suchocki’s First Sunday in Lent commentary contrasting the gardens with the desert of temptation. Also Joseph Sittler’s sermon on the Garden of Eden and the Garden of Ghetsemane provide much inspiration to then preach on the Garden of Resurrection and the Resurrection of Gardens.
The Easter story is the Christian top layer on ancient Spring Equinox celebrations that observe the resurrection of nature. Denuded trees that begin sprouting leaves, barren grounds that start to look green again, tiny growth that promises fruits and sustenance for coming months. All these events must be celebrated and used to urge the believers in the resurrection of Christ to participate in the healing of the earth and the renewal of life.