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  • suggested journal prompts

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Lenten Program Session 8 (Easter)


The story of the resurrection occurs in the very fragile and magnificent dawn moment when the deepest dark of night meets with the first appearance of light before sunrise—a mysterious and miraculous awakening of the day.

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said (to the angels) “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

(John 20:13b-17)

"Dare to Hope"


The Lenten season focus on transformation is realized in life anew celebrated with Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday and the promise of hope during the upcoming Easter season.

Each week of this Lenten season, we have read, reflected, prayed and challenged ourselves to act in ways that praise God, show compassion and respect for the natural world and the dignity of others. Some weeks God graced our intentions and actions; some weeks, we came up short. But every week we persisted.

We have been changed in these 40 days, walking with God in prayer. Thankful for this season of struggle and soulful preparation, we are encouraged and strengthened by the shared stories and prayers of our parish friends (the incredible power of community) and we are inspired by our deeper connection to the natural world (awed by its elegant strength, patience and resilience).

The gospel message of Easter resurrection describes a rapturous moment of courageous faith, redemption, and hope. This moment is vividly enriched in the context of the natural world: sunrise’s brilliant awakening, the earth quaking, lightning flashing in the sky, the angel’s garment showing bright white. All these powerfully set the stage for the risen Christ. The resurrection story is intensified by the scent of funeral spices prepared to anoint Christ’s body and by the immense stone covering Christ’s earthen tomb. Everyday God’s natural world offers us such splendor and fullness. Christ’s rising has been portrayed by many authors, poets and artists: e.g the swan adrift like a white cross lifting from the black river (Mary Oliver), the hungry caterpillar bursting from cocoon (Eric Carle).

Easter hope is for all - young and old, woman and man, poor and rich as well as the natural world. Padre James Bhagwan speaks to this in an article about Jesus and Climate Change for the Fiji Times: “in Jesus we bear witness to a moral vision of life in which the beloved community understands itself as part of, and on behalf of, the biotic community: the Body of Christ for the body of Earth. It is a vision birthed in resurrection hope, in which wholeness and renewal remain a gifted reality, and yet reality that is also something to strive for, as much as to hope for. It is the church taking seriously its calling to be a sign of the new creation. It is the enduring dream of God at work among those who have hope, or who desperately need it.” We can proclaim anew. Amen.

The issue of climate change is often approached with fear and concern, but a holy people know the power of Easter. The women in the gospels are overwhelmed at the prospect of moving the weighty rock covering Jesus’ tomb, only to be overjoyed when the angels of the Lord move the stone aside, presenting God in his glory. The story notes that when Mary shifts her gaze to the heavens, God’s possibility is revealed. This is the message of Easter hope.

We are blessed by this holy season. We praise the struggle and the new life of Easter and in each one of us. Casting fear aside, we share the message of hope. We live now more alive in Jesus. Hallelujah!

For Reflection:

  • How are you astonished by the Easter season? What gives you hope?

  • In what ways does the miracle of Ester motivate you to action on behalf of creation?

Resources:

Action or challenge for the week:

  • Note nature quietly emerging from the darkness of winter into the life of spring.

  • With a marker, write the word HOPE on a small rock, (or write a short message/ image of hope). Keep the rock as a reminder of our connection to the natural world, or share with a friend in conversation.

  • Keep holy the greatest Sabbath Day of the year, Easter– turn everything off and be totally present… with God, family, and natural world!

Journaling

  • How have you changed during the Lenten season?

  • Our personal transformation at Lent is represented by the budding of spring, eggs hatching, etc. What image describes your “rebirth” and transformation this Lenten season?

  • How about the image of Jesus as a gardener? What seeds of hope can you plant this spring and Easter season? What plant or tree can you nurture in your yard or home?

Daily Prayer for the Week

Risen and Rising God, help us

dare to pray,

dare to rise,

dare to hope,

dare to be a blazing lily this morning, and every morning.

Hallelujah! Amen.

From The Poetry of Lent: A Lenten Companion to Mary Oliver Devotions (Easter Day Prayer)


If you missed Reflections from previous weeks, you can find them here.