The deacon poured last year’s blessed oils onto the wood, newspaper and palm crosses. She lit them on fire and our Easter Vigil began. We read stories from the Hebrew scriptures, gospels and epistles, as God’s people have done for centuries. The readings remind us where we’ve come from and how we’ve been led–through suffering and death–to new life.
In her homily, Ruth Monette, our priest, talked about fire, how it lights the way and how it also burns and destroys. Our church, St. Stephen the Martyr, had a fire half a century ago and had to be rebuilt.
“Fires can be devastating,” she said. “When a forest catches fire, firefighters work hard to put them out. We don’t want people living nearby to lose their homes. But we’ve learned that for the forests to survive, we need to let them burn down so new trees can grow.”
While Ruth spoke, she glanced at me a couple of times. Although she told me afterward she wasn’t thinking about what had happened to me when she did that, I got the point.
A line from the Soul of Christ prayer came back to me. On each of my dyings, shed your light and your love. During the forty days of Lent, I died to what was, my power to change it, and my ability to get over it. All through Lent, Christ shed his love, but the light to see what would come of this death has not yet emerged.
We ended the service with timid shouts. “Hallelujah! Christ has risen!” Then we heard the pop of a cork and champagne and apple juice was poured for everyone. (Don’t you wish you went to my church!)
Celebrate, Esther! the Spirit seemed to say. Light is coming.
Lent is over. Now, in this Easter season, we have fifty days of rising.
On each of my risings . . . what will Christ do?
I don’t know, but it’s going to good.
God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” –Romans 8:14-15 (MSG)
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Jenny Konkin is the co-founder of a Downtown Eastside Vancouver organization called Whole Way House that works with vulnerable seniors and veterans. Jenny found out what happens when you end severe isolation and loneliness by inviting people into community. This video clip is taken from an interview with her on a podcast by Rod Janz on Fuel Radio. It’s truly inspiring.