“We must always remember that we are in the context of a world that has been renewed by God in Christ. It is that perspective which nourishes our vision, which kindles our outrage, and energizes our engagement.” -Archbishop Rowan Williams
Lent is a time for renewal. Right now, the sun is rising outside, and we are preparing to buy starter plants to begin our season in the garden. The weather is warming, and I can hear the frogs at night. Last night, we could lay outside and look at the stars as we listened to them. Cases of the virus are decreasing, and restrictions are lifting. Spring and Easter are coming, and bringing signs of new life with them.
Yet I hesitate to trust those signs. It has become both cliché and dangerous, as any optimistic discussions around “new beginnings” or “possibilities” over the past year have yielded to new variants of the virus or new manifestations of racism and violence.
Yet Easter persists, because we are being renewed by God in Christ. This renewal is not based on circumstances, which may or may not reflect it. It is based on a deeper reality, and so we draw from a deeper well to realize it.
In the recent conference at which the former Archbishop of Canterbury spoke the words quoted above, he discussed the need to patiently draw from the wells of prayer and scripture in order to address the most pressing challenges of our time. If we rush to respond, he suggested, we will fail to give the world a vision of a redeemed humanity in Christ. That is what we have to offer as the Church, first and foremost: a vision of a redeemed humanity, nourished by the Sacraments and Word of God. It is easy for us to forget that.
This Easter and this Spring will bring new life, no matter what. The case rates of the virus may continue to decrease, and we may see restrictions lifted, as we are now. We may also see new variants, new health challenges or old ones resurface (as has already happened), or new manifestations of the other pandemics of racism or environmental devastation. But the redeemed vision of creation in Jesus Christ remains unshakable by the events of the world. It has persisted throughout 2020, and it will persist again, because He will come again.
So as we move forward into this uncertain future, we can ask, where is God bringing us new life? What will my own walk with Jesus look like as he renews me day by day? How will the life of our church reflect this renewal?
I look forward to celebrating that with you this Easter.