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  • Seasons of the Spirit: From Life to Death to Life Again

    April continues our journey through the Lenten season, a time inviting us to deeper self-examination and spiritual introspection leading us into the events of Holy Week and Eastertide, with its shadows and light, its losses and triumphs, its grief and joy. As Lent helps us deepen our faith, we live further into the great revelation of what we Christians call the Paschal Mystery: life to death to life again–in an ongoing movement mirroring the reality of all life on this planet. We are led to live more fully with faith into in the events of Holy Week:

    “The light of Love rises from the shadows of our broken dreams,
    The fire of Hope is kindled in the ashes of our unspeakable losses.”

    Palm Sunday includes the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, surprising us by riding on a lowly donkey instead of a glorious steed. The reversal of the worldly power of Rome’s battalions is made evident in the choice of a humble donkey, with people waving palm branches rather than spears and swords.

    In the solemnity of the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday, Jesus reveals to us the sacrament of communion with its bittersweet reality of companionship through the devastating denial, betrayal, and death itself that can come to us when we attempt to live truthfully and with the integrity which would link all life on our little planet.

    We are taken to the foot of the cross on Good Friday, where we are irradiated of the terrible lie and illusion that “they are the guilty.” Here we come to recognize our common humanity with all other beings. We are called to face our projections of guilt and blame upon others. At the cross, God helps us see we all share the human condition with its shadows and light, and that our “pure motives” have their dark sides also. Jesus hangs before us as an example of the worst we can do to one another.

    In Holy Saturday, we simply wait in the darkness of the tomb. We are called to be witnesses and stay with those who have been abandoned, tortured, forgotten, shamed, and are the scapegoats of our lust for power, riches, fame, and security.

    On Easter, the stone of our tombs are rolled away, and new life emerges from the place where we had given up all hope. The Risen One with the pierced hands and feet has kept us company in the worst that can befall humankind, and has now shown us a way to a hope the world cannot destroy, has revealed to us the way into the very heart of God.    How can we keep from shouting, “Alleluia! He is risen!”

    We move together into Eastertide with this Mystery now in our very bones, giving new life to our hearts, minds and souls. I am so glad we have each other with whom to share the journey: weeping with those who weep. laughing with those who laugh.

    Showing we are Christians by our Love. Let our thanks always be to God, who shows us The Way.

    —Rev. Dr. Ken Orth, Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction Affiliate, First Congregational Church of Winchester (UCC), and Healing Worship Minister, the Old South Church in Boston (UCC)