Easter


A very happy, blest, and grace filled Easter to you all!

The modern American author, novelist, and theologian Anne Lamott shared a very poignant insight into the Spiritual life…she said, and I whole heartedly agree…

The opposite of faith is not doubt: The opposite of faith is is certainty.  

The opposite of faith is not doubt: The opposite of faith is is certainty. 

You see my friends, if there is one thing that Jesus consistently did, it was to blow away the paradigms of certitude that people had of him, and of his role, and even of how this whole life, passion, death, and resurrection would play out in his life and in theirs!

If we have any doubt, all we have to do is go back to our Gospel tonight and ask Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James and Solome.

They knew what was supposed to happen.

They knew what was to be done, according to the Law,

they knew even how, when and with what it was to be done.

Accordingly, they went to do exactly what was supposed to be done,

And, once again, it was exactly opposite of their expectations.

You see, there was among most of the Jewish peoples and leaders of Jesus’ day, the idea that a messiah, a great powerful, transformative, leader of Israel from the line of King David was going to be born!

And into the very realm of our humanity, comes Jesus, the Son of God,

Of the line of David indeed…..but rather remotely….and to two Mary and Joseph…an unwed couple….not in a palace, but in a stable, a barn…it just didn’t make sense!

The opposite of faith is not doubt: The opposite of faith is is certainty. 

Story after story that we have heard for the last 40 Days, in fact since the first Sunday of Advent, they have been stories that point not to direct, definitive certitude,

But they are stories, that invite you and I, deeper into the mystery of this amazing God whom we celebrate and praise, and worship.

And yet, as Churches, we have often created, canonized and codified how God shows up in our lives and in the world, so if we are going to be honest with ourselves we have to put the lens of Jesus on ourselves and ask if we are not doing the very same things that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were doing as well?

I do not think I am saying anything new to any of us gathered here tonight, but I do think it is worth hearing again…..Jesus did not come to establish the Episcopal Church or the Old Catholic Church or the Baptist Church or the Roman Catholic Church or any Church!!!!

Jesus came, first and foremost, to re-establish a RELATIONSHIP between God and Creation, between God and Humankind, a relationship that had been broken by what?…..By the arrogance of our own certitude!

If Holy Thursday taught us anything, it taught us that washing each other’s feet, standing, and sitting, and sharing a meal, entering into relationship with each other and subsequently with our God….that is the call of the Gospel.

Anne Lamott continued her reflection on faith with this….

The opposite of faith is not doubt: The opposite of faith is is certainty.  We can tell we have created God in your own image when it turns out that he or she hates all the same people we do.

And if we are honest, I believe we would have to admit that many times throughout our history we have done exactly that.

In fact, I would venture to say that even today, Saint Anne’s and Spirit of Hope both do that as well.

Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t like Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of James and Solome and we flee from the uncertainty of the empty tomb, in fear and amazement and we say nothing to anyone because we are afraid!

How often have we lamented and worried about the future of our Churches….How often have we said to each other…”We have always done it this way”  or, “the young people don’t come” or “the only time we see some folks is at Christmas and Easter.” or any number of other sundry statements of fear and tribalism.

So maybe we are asking ourselves….so Bishop Marty what is the Good News?

I am here tonight…we are trying…

To which I would invite you to stop, right now, and for the next 15 seconds, say to the person in front, behind next to or nearby you….Hi my name is ….or thank you for being here….or simply thank you for your faith…15 seconds…

My friends….we just began to wash each other’s feet!  We began to establish the Reign of God on earth, in this place, right here, right now!

Now another invitation….just imagine if we were able to step into the next 50 days…the 50 days of Easter and we challenged ourselves—to do what Jesus invited us to do….to build relationships with someone whom we really do not know.  In doing so…we might just be and become the Eucharist in which we share!

In 1983 our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters rewrote their Cannon Law…they gathered some of the best and brightest theologians and in the introduction they shared one of the least known and I believe most transformative statements about the Church that has ever been said…it says this:

The Church, the People of God, is first and foremost a People who, not a place where, the praise, honor and glory of God is encountered and lived out!

I leave us with this question to ponder:

“What if we were less concerned with creating saints than creating a world where we do not need saints? A world where people like Mother Teresa and MLKjr and Dorothy Day would have nothing to do.”

That my friends…that might even be the birth of the Reign of God!

Happy Easter!

Rt Rev. Marty Shanahan