The Mystery That’s Always in the Room

At the beginning of Lent, I went to a panel discussion of leaders who care for people at the end of life. One of them, a chaplain, spoke of how powerfully she is called to her work…how deep an honor it is…because she bears witness to the great mystery that is in the room when death comes. She went on to say…the mystery is always in the room, of course…
And it is true. Death is the mystery that is always in the room. We carry it with us always. And so is Easter. So is resurrection.
This holy season of Easter that arrives in this month brings us right into the room with the mystery of life and death and life beyond death. I think the reason I love the Easter Vigil so much (which takes place on the Saturday evening before Easter Sunday) is that it is a worship service whose rituals enfold all of this mystery. Death and Resurrection are both in the room.
All of Lent, and especially Holy Week, draw us toward this room. From the parade of Palm Sunday…to the intimate final words with Jesus in the Upper Room and the washing of feet on Maundy Thursday…to the barren, aching hill and the crucifixion on Good Friday…All these stations on the journey draw us to the new fire that is lit on Saturday as the Vigil begins…and to the great telling of the long arc of God’s saving work…from the first breath of creation…to this very day…and into the future. We return to the waters of baptism and are carried again through death and into life…even as the very moment of resurrection comes, and we proclaim that the tomb is empty and Christ is alive. The joy of that moment and sharing Holy Communion in the fresh light of the resurrection dawn is like nothing else…(the metaphorical resurrection dawn, that is…Unlike the early church, we won’t keep vigil all night until the actual Easter sun rises.)
At Vigil, we enter a room that is dark…with little more than candlelight. The mystery of death looms around us. And even yet, we recite the stories of salvation…maybe to rebuke the darkness. Then the primordial waters show us the threshold between life and death. And out of them, we and Christ emerge…and light floods the room…and resurrection is present, too.
These mysteries are always in the room, of course. Every breath in our lungs and beat of our hearts contain them. Every Sunday is a little Easter. But it takes time and preparation to take in the mystery deeply. That is part of our work at Easter. God has changed everything…and we respond in joy and reverence…slowing down…to see, and hear, and smell, and taste, and touch…the mystery in which we live and move and have our being. Blessings to you, as you journey with the mystery.
Pastor Carolyn