Easter was a challenge this year, for all sorts of reasons. It’s not the easiest holiday for most Unitarian Universalists to begin with – the majority of us do not identify as Christians, and those who do generally emphasize the teachings of the human Jesus of Nazareth over stories of a physically risen Christ. Yet it’s also important, because the metaphor of resurrection – in spirit if not in body – is powerful when the spirit within us seems to have died. The day is a reminder of hope and promise, despite every difficulty.
This year, looking out at the world, the difficulties are obvious and hope has seemed especially hard to find. It’s difficult not to feel hopeless and helpless when so many of the loudest voices in society respond to terrorist violence by further victimizing the refugees whose lives have been most damaged and remain most in danger. It’s hard not to feel lost when we hear the bitter words of White supremacy echoing openly once more in our own country. We feel heartbroken when states pass laws banning the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human beings, and offer cash rewards for turning them in, like Judas and his thirty pieces of silver.
I said all of this in my message on Sunday – but I noted that we continue on regardless, just as people did two thousand years ago, and just as people everywhere have always done. Sometimes, the work that needs doing outweighs the grief, and sometimes in the process of doing it despite it all we start to realize that the beauty and joy still in the world are just as real as any hardship and suffering. We find hope and renewal by becoming it.
I finished the service with a prayer, which I give to you in somewhat modified form. It was written as an Easter prayer, but it needn’t be. Hope and renewal need never be limited to one day or time of year.
A Prayer of Hope in a Time of Terror
God of many names and no name,
Spirit of hope and possibility,
ever growing and changing,
reborn each moment
with the turning of the world –
We have seen too many sorrows.
With the people of Brussels we have wept,
as we have wept with Ankara, Turkey,
San Bernardino, California,
the nation of Syria,
and so many others,
and as we weep today with the people of Lahore, Pakistan.
Our hearts cry out with all whose lives have been taken and torn.
We know that as war begets war,
hate begets hate
and fear becomes anger.
We are too tempted to respond
to the brokenness of the world
by fracturing it further.
In this, our season of rebirth,
may we meet death
with affirmations of life,
finding hope through destruction
as we give ourselves to the world’s renewal.
Today, we embrace the redemption of love
and begin the work of healing.
This we pray:
Let us become the resurrection.
– Rev. Dan Schatz
March 27, 2016