Our Easter Service follows the pattern of the Agape Meal. This is a celebration of table fellowship and an expression of the unity of the Christian Community. Although bread and wine are used, they remain unconsecrated and so this is not a Eucharist. For us, Eucharist requires the presence of priest and congregation in the same space.
The Agape Meal was a common practice of the early church and forms a bridge between the Jewish Passover Meal and the Eucharist. The words of blessing come from the remembrance of Paul in 1 Cor. rather than directly from Jesus at the Last Supper.
You might like to have your own bread and wine to hand so as to participate virtually, at the time of breaking and sharing.
Easter Day Service
The link will be live from 9:30am
The Rector’s Easter Message
There are moments in history when disaster clarifies our vision of the world. Thus I find myself in an historical frame of mind as I reflect on the meaning of Easter, this year. History offers an unnerving coincidence. The last great influenza pandemic that swept the globe happened in 1918-19 when an estimated 500 million people contracted an H1N1 virus commonly named as Spanish Flu; resulting in an estimated 50 million deaths of which 675,000 occurred in the US, alone.
I mention the 1918-19 pandemic simply because I am struck by a historical symmetry. The chronology of the CORVID-19 Pandemic occurring almost exactly 100 years later is uncanny. I am not suggesting I know the meaning of this symmetry other than to present it as evidence that humanity thrives within a complex internet of nature, which despite a century of astonishing medical and technological progress still has the power to swiftly bring civilization to its knees. Medical and technological progress offers little added protection against the lethal ingenuity of biological and environmental nature; a timely reminder before which the repentance of humility is the only authentic response.
The Malvern Conference of 1941 offers a second historical symmetry between then and now. In the midst of the darkest days of Britain’s struggle for national survival against Nazi tyranny – there gathered a major conference of notable literary, political, and church leaders. Called and chaired by Archbishop William Temple at a time when the fate of national survival seemed to be in some doubt, these men and women gathered to re-vision a future restructuring of British Society after war’s end. What audacity, indeed!
The pandemic of 1918-19 and the Malvern Conference offer historical windows through which to re-vision a post Coronavirus world. Malvern drew the blueprint for Britain’s postwar social reconstruction, particularly in the reforms to public education and healthcare spearheaded by the incoming Labour Administration in 1945. To translate into American historical terms, Malvern was the beginning of Britain’s New Deal.
Both these historical events remind me of the curious symmetry concealed in history’s sweep. If the authentic response to our continued vulnerability to the lethal ingenuity of the natural order is Good Friday’s repentance of humility, then the authentic response to a historical reminder of the possibilities for social re-visioning -of the order that emerged out of Britain’s Malvern Conference and America’s New Deal – is Easter’s defiance of hope.
I coin the phrase defiance of hope to capture the two essential elements of hope. The first is that hope is generated not by joy but by sorrow and loss. There can be no Easter hope without Good Friday’s loss. The Malvern Conference and Roosevelts New Deal were both visions of hope born out of periods of terrible suffering and loss. The second element is the defiant nature of hope. Hope takes its stand not in the absence of -but in the face of fear. In defiance of the destructive power of loss and suffering, hope faces evil down and calls it by name.
This Lent, we have journeyed towards Easter against the backdrop of a world of darkening skies and of mounting fear. The economy has unraveled in a matter of weeks- catapulting millions of our fellow citizens into the greatest experience of economic insecurity since the Great Depression. We have had to physically isolate ourselves from one another, as the ICU units fill to overflowing with the gravely ill and the morgues spill out into refrigerated trucks stationed in their empty parking lots.
And yet, and yet! We arrive at Easter’s hope bowed but not cowered. We arrive amazed by learning again that which we appear to have found it easier to turn our eyes from. In fact, the Coronavirus Pandemic has as nothing has before – so quickly and so nakedly exposed the weakness of our social and economic fabric. The hollowness of 30 years of neo-capitalist individualism collapses before our eyes as urgent stimulus measures cast aside the sacred doctrines of tax cuts and corporate profit. The dangers of sectarianism along with all the other isms that tear our society apart are in the twinkling of the eye exposed to the light of day. The ism of race has taken on a new poignancy as we are forced to face up to the long-term consequences of a profit driven health care system that has excluded from effective healthcare large sections of the African American and Latino communities.
This year, the defiant hope of Easter is no longer a comfortable sentiment, but a searing imperative to re-vision our society. The defiance of Easter’s hope propels us as a society, as a people whose lot is interdependence one upon another – to with an urgent determination and passionate courage re-vision a future completely different from our recent past.
The resurrection of Jesus is for Christians the opening of a new chapter in the long story of creation. God raised Jesus to new life as the Christ to demonstrate God’s ultimate intention for the whole of creation. What God had hitherto hinted at in the dreams of Israel’s prophets – God has now inaugurated through raising Jesus – not to spiritual life in heaven, but new life on earth. – a new life on earth that now continues through the Holy Spirit’s empowering of the life of the Christian Community.
Working for the perfection of creation might seem like an impossible dream. However, through the defiance of hope, God’s work is being carried out through the Christian Community in the world. That this is not our work alone, takes nothing away from the reality that it IS nevertheless, our work!
We live in the time between the resurrection of Jesus and final consummation of the renewal of all creation. The Easter defiance of hope is to live as if the promise yet to come is already being fulfilled – that:
things which were cast down are being (present tense) raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, that all things are being brought to perfection.Solemn Collects for Good Friday.
There are moments in history when disaster clarifies our vision of the world. This Easter we arrive at such a moment. The Coronavirus, through exposing the glaring deficiencies of our social structures, now starkly reveals to us how over previous decades American society has taken a wrong turn. In 2020, the message of Easter could not be clearer. It is now time as a nation to once again raise up that which has been cast down and work for the renewal of that which has grown old. This is the meaning and the message of the defiance of resurrection hope!
HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE – WHAT A CELEBRATION WE SHALL HAVE WHEN WE CAN BE TOGETHER AGAIN!
The loss of Easter giving is significant financial burden for all churches. We are deeply appreciative of your generosity and support during this challenging period.