How many times have you found yourself going about your day, minding your own business, when something happens that completely changes your plans for the day? Has that ever happened to you . . . ? Friends welcome to one of the ways in which God works. It is highly inconvenient and often when we are preoccupied with other things, important things, tasks that have to get done; deadlines to meet, kids to ferry from one activity to the next when the phone rings. Just when we get into that comfortable stride and routine and everything figured out, God comes along and taps us on the shoulder. After which, the day, week, life is never the same.
I love plans. I love to sit and plan a month ahead, even a whole year. But of course, as I arrive in the office, check an email or answer the phone, inevitably what I had planned for the day gets put aside to make way for other priorities and work that demands my attention. There can be nothing more frustrating than coming to the end of the day and realizing that many, if not all, what I had planned did not get done because I was pulled in one or more other directions. I have learned, and yes, in some cases, still learning that often the work that I have been pulled into, the rude interruption to the day, is exactly what I need to be doing now. These are moments when God taps me on the shoulder and says, “here, pay attention to this.”
Church this is what it means to live into the Paschal Mystery and what it means to celebrate Easter. Resurrection are those moments in our lives where we are, rudely or otherwise, interrupted by God from what we are doing. These are the moments that pull our attention and where God says to us, “come look here, this is what I am up to now.”
As I have mentioned before, I love Holy Week. It is the climax of the Christian year with so many things happening. This is a week I look forward to every year and will go out of my way to participate in as fully as I can. Chrism Mass has become a memorable and favourite Mass of mine. This is a Mass that normally happens on Holy Tuesday, the Tuesday in Holy Week, where clergy and others from across the Diocese gather at Christ Church Cathedral to join our bishop in the renewing of our baptismal and ordination vows. This is also a time where the bishop will bless the oils of Unction and Chrism. The two oils for healing, Unction, and for baptism, Chrism. This year a new oil was blessed for the Chatecuminate, those persons undergoing their preparation for confirmation and reception into the Church. Holy Week and in particular Chrism Mass comes at a really busy time. There is so much to prepare and do, that to stop mid-stream and go downtown isn’t exactly beneficial to my blood pressure.
But inevitably, every time with out fail, when I arrive, connect with colleagues and others, participate in the liturgy, a calmness settles in my soul and I am reminded once again that I am just one piece in a larger story. God’s story where God draws all manner of thing unto God’s self and declares that all shall be well.
I am reminded that we are a part of a bigger plan of God’s and that God is up to something new in our lives and world. My best made plans get some perspective and inevitably it means I have to let go of some stuff too.
This is the hard part of Resurrection and the Paschal Mystery. For everything new, more often than not, we have to let go of what is holding us back in order to make way for the new to emerge. This is hard, because so often the new life we are called into is one that is still being formed and hasn’t come into full bloom yet. But we know, we just know deep down within our souls that this is the right and necessary thing to do, to let go of our anxieties, concerns, fears and all that keeps us from being more fully alive in God because we know that whatever the new life is that we are being called into, it is so much better, so much richer, so much fuller than we can ever have imagined. This has been the story and journey of Holy Week and Good Friday; learning to let go of what holds us back from God and God’s plan for us.
The old that we let go and allow to die are those moments that have helped bring and shape who we are today. There is nothing wrong with them.They come and serve their purpose in preparing us for a much brighter and fuller purpose in God. They are the necessary stepping stones that all point towards God. If you have ever had a doubt about what the Paschal Mystery means. If you have ever doubted what the Resurrection looks like . . . Take a look around, it is what happens to us in small and profound ways every day. We see this mystery displayed in the changing of seasons as we move from Winter to Spring as the first shoots emerge in garden beds amongst the old foliage that has died from the previous seasons. We see Resurrection in the forming of new relationships and commitments. We see Resurrection every time the phone rings, we answer an email and find ourselves pulled into those precious moments that God wants us to see and pay attention to.
We begin to see and understand what the Paschal Mystery means when we learn that death is not the end of anything, but rather a pathway to a new life in God where we are drawn deeper into relationship with God. To that end, I wish each and everyone one of you lots of ‘mini deaths’ as you are interrupted by God to become more fully who God created you to be this day, this year and every year.