Skip to main content

Our Season of Renewal

Our Season of Renewal
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

Writing this from my desk, the majestic view of Quandry mountain has been hidden behind a much-needed blanket of snow for most of this week. While the first day of Spring will arrive for most of the country next week, I’m pretty sure the three feet of snow covering my yard will not be going anywhere, anytime soon. Which is fine with me, because I love snow.
As I walk the snow packed roads with my two Newfoundland dogs, I recall this past summer we enjoyed the rushing water of the creek and the spectacular blue and gold wild flowers. Those realities are not gone, only asleep beneath the snow.
This coming week marks the holiest week of the Church calendar. We observe transformative moments in Jesus’ final days of ministry and how each event brings meaning to our lives.
Our priest will reenact Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples by washing our feet, reminding us by this example, of the humble love and service that we should offer to one another. 
We observe the Passover Supper where Jesus introduced us to a new meal, made of the humblest ingredients, bread and wine, to memorialize the most profound sacrifice of Love.  With the breaking of bread and sharing of wine, Jesus invites us to share a Holy Communion with himself, to ‘do this in remembrance of me’.
On Holy Thursday, the altar of the church is cleared and the Blessed Sacrament is placed in a separate area and we are invited to sit and wait with Jesus, as his disciples were invited to wait with him before he was taken away to his death on the cross.
My most lasting memory of this day occurred twenty-some years ago in an old church in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. I sat in the church at dusk and listened to Gregorian chants sung in the choir loft behind me. It was the starkest reminder of how dark and empty our world would have been if the Light of God had not come to live among us.
Perhaps it was this experience which left me with the impression that Holy Week was a time of mourning.
Good Friday is the traditional day of observance of Christ’s crucifixion, we remember Jesus’ horrific death, and his journey into the darkness of the tomb.
The week, and our church year, culminates at the Easter Vigil late on Saturday night in a dramatic service which traditionally begins in darkness, as it recounts God’s creation of our world and his constant overtures to be part of the human journey, going so far as to take human form in order to fully participate in our daily lives.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.  – John3:16-17 MSG

Where I used to see Holy Week as a time of mourning, I now appreciate that we are the ones who are called into the mystery of transformation. Jesus rose from the darkness to break the chains of death and invites us to resurrect our lives by accepting his gift of love and rebirth. Just as I know that this summer will find me walking in fields of mountain wildflowers where I now walk in snow, I can be sure that Jesus’ death and resurrection signals the renewal of an everlasting Love that we are called to become a part of, to renew our lives within, not just in the coming week but every day.
I hope that you will join me during Holy Week, to renew our walk of faith and seek God’s ready participation in every facet of our lives.


Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson writes a regular religion column for the Summit Daily News and is an author of ten books. Send comments to Suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Women are Highly Esteemed in the Eyes of This Man

I enter the sanctuary of Our Lady of Peace Church and my eyes adjust to the dimmed lights as the only illumination comes from candles on the altar and their glowing reflection in the monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament.
My friend and I had come to join the Mary and Martha’s quarterly meeting which started with an hour of Adoration.
I took my seat in one of the pews, knelt, and surreptitiously glanced around the sanctuary. In the gloaming, I could see thirty other women kneeling like sentinels in silent prayer. 
Over the course of the hour, we would remain in contemplative silence.
As I slipped in and out of my prayers and wandering thoughts, I considered how pleased God must be when he sees us gathered in the simple and divine act of Adoration.
But in fact, women are highly esteemed in God’s sight not matter where we are. 
We only look at the life of Jesus Christ to understand how dearly he cherishes every woman.
In the Gospel of Saint John, a group of men bring a woman caught i…

When our spirit hungers

The precocious toddler’s interest in talking to her mother grew in insistence as the gathered group settled in for an hour of silent prayer. Shushing didn’t work, so the mother led her child into an adjoining room where she would still be part of the sanctuary, but sound would be dampened. Despite the closed door and heavy glass walls, the child’s fervent desire to speak with her mother was still audible.
I said a prayer for the patient mother determined to stay, and for the child who was either tired or hungry or impatient for Mom’s undivided attention. And then tried to bring my wandering thoughts back to prayer. I had come to Adoration with my own pressing need for answers.
Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed a growing emptiness in my heart. A void, as if something is missing. It’s not psychological. Not physical. After doing an internal check, I determined it’s a spiritual void that I’m experiencing.
No, I’m not doubting God, his existence or goodness. I have full confidence in…

If you are tired of the guilt trip you usually feel at church, here’s a different perspective

I am counting the days until I fly to Fort Lauderdale to see Mom for Christmas. Yes, I speak with her every day, sometimes twice a day. But as you know, phone calls just aren’t the same as being with someone you love. I look forward to seeing Mom’s smile, to holding her hand, to going for a drive along the beach with her. Spending time in the presence of someone we love enriches our relationship with them.
I believe the love I feel for Mom, is a sliver of what God feels for each of us. I believe God longs to share that love with us. Which is why we are called to spend time in God’s presence daily. We experience God’s presence when we meet him in our prayers, in church, and hopefully in one another. If I could make one wish for each of us, it would be that at some point during the next four weeks of Advent we would experience how much Jesus loves us.



The Best Christmas

During my morning devotions, I read these two verses of Psalm 117:
Praise theLord,all you nations;
extol him, all you peop…