Thursday, October 6, 2016

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

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