From the Pastor 4.17.19

What do Holy Week and Easter mean?

During Holy Week and Easter, we hear about dying to the old and being raised to new life.  But what is this “new life”?  And is the old life really all that bad?  It’s easy enough to come up with earnest, spiritualized answers to these questions on Easter, but what is the everyday reality? 

In reality, to live a new life, we need to understand what is not working with the old life.  This takes work, and is based on self-awareness born of deep, extended and honest reflection.  If moving into the reality of new life was easy, Lent could be 10 minutes long, instead of 40 days.

It may be that we confuse new life with old.  A couple of weeks ago someone was describing their understanding of new life, and it sounded as if life was pretty much the same as earlier in Holy Week, with some of the dust knocked off.  And maybe one less disciple.

In truth, there is nothing more radical in Christianity than the resurrection, because it frees us from unhealthy dependence on things that don’t meet our needs.

Thomas Merton was the best-known Christian contemplative of the 20th Century.  He said this:

“The secular and sacred reflect two kinds of dependence. The secular world depends upon the things it needs to divert itself and escape from its own nothingness. It depends on the creation and multiplication of artificial needs, which it then pretends to satisfy.

“Hence the secular world is a world that pretends to exalt man’s liberty, but in which man is in fact enslaved by the things on which he depends.

“In secular society man himself is alienated and becomes a thing rather than a person, because he is subject to his ever-increasing needs, to his restlessness, his dissatisfaction, his anxiety, and his fear, but above all to the guilt which reproaches him for infidelity to his own inner truth. To escape this guilt, he plunges further into falsity.

“In the sacred society, on the other hand, man admits no dependence on anything lower than himself, or even outside himself in a spatial sense.  His only master is God. Only when God is our master can we be free, for God is within ourselves as well as above us.”

At Easter, when we talk about new life, we are talking about a very real, day-to-day life.  The ultimate day-to-day life, in fact.

So it’s time to be open to the joy of new life!  Let’s celebrate!  See you in church Thursday and Friday at 6:30 p.m., and Sunday at 8:00 and 9:30 a.m.