The Bishop's Page


May, 2009

Dear Friends,

It is the Tuesday following Easter and I write with the hope that each you experienced a meaningful Holy Week and Glorious Easter Celebration. Over the last couple of days in a variety of conversations a number of folks have said, "You've got to be exhausted after last week!" "I'll bet you're looking forward to some time to rest."

I wouldn't be honest if I didn't agree there is an intensity associated with Holy Week and Easter that requires a level of physical and emotional endurance. On more than one occasion I found myself looking at my schedule and thinking, "only "X" number of services to go"… I am embarrassed to admit I had such thoughts, but at the same time I couldn't help imagining the intensity of what had been experienced by those first disciples and even more by Jesus.

Each year we are invited into this time of intentionality toward our faith. In our own varied ways we enter into Holy Week, reliving the joyful entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem; the last supper and the institution of Holy Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ. We witness Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, then their inability to stay awake with him for even an hour while He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. We watch as Jesus is arrested, tried in the mockery of a court, and crucified. We wait in vigil to be renewed in our lives and faith on Easter morning.

Then after a couple days of rest, or for many of us Monday morning, we return to the world and the routines of our daily lives. So the question we must ask ourselves is, what does it mean to be an Easter People more than just one week a year?

Paraphrasing from a sermon preached by The Rev. Mark D. Wilkinson, Rector of St. Aidan's Episcopal Church, Virginia Beach, Virginia:

As an Easter People we should have a different perspective on the world. We are mandated by Jesus to love one another just as he has loved us. This is a challenge! Jesus wasn't just telling his disciples to love each other, he was telling them to love their neighbors. This is foundational to our Baptismal Covenant: "Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?" The challenge is that Jesus did not just love the lovable, the ones that fit in or were socially acceptable. Jesus loved the most vulnerable in the world.
Living as an Easter People is more than talk and worship, it is action. It means, following the example of those first disciples at the tomb and running to share the Good News with others.

In the book "Living the Resurrection" by Eugene Peterson we read:

"The [world] is obviously not a vacation paradise. It's more like a warzone. And that's where we Christians are stationed, along with the children, to affirm the primacy of life over death, to give a witness to the connectedness and preciousness of all life, to engage in the practice of resurrection. We do this by gathering in congregations and regular worship before our life-giving God and our death-defeating Christ and our life-abounding Holy Spirit. We do it by reading, pondering, teaching, and preaching the Word of Life as it is revealed in our Scriptures. We do it by baptizing men, women and children into the name of the Trinity, nurturing them into a resurrection life. We do it by eating the life of Jesus in the bread and the wine in the Eucharist. We do it by visiting prisoners, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, healing the sick, working for justice, loving our enemies, raising our children, doing our everyday work to the glory of God…all this is pretty ordinary. It doesn't take a great deal of training or talent to do any of it…."

In my Easter Sermon I said,
"we have to die to our old lives, with our worldly values,
and set our minds on the new life and things above.
Our lives can no longer be defined by the mundane realities of this world,
but the realities of God's Kingdom."

If we are to live as an Easter People the message of the Resurrection needs to consume our very being. It is a message of hope and love, not of hate and fear. It is a message meant for all humanity and welcomes all humanity with open loving arms.

May the Good News of the risen Christ be with you this Eastertide.

+Bishop Ed

Pastoral Letter from The House of Bishops issued March 18, 2009