The Rev. Peter M. Carey
Berkeley Preparatory School - 6 April 2015
The word "Easter" and most of the secular celebrations of the holiday come from pagan traditions. Anglo Saxons worshipped Eostre, the goddess of springtime and the return of the sun after the long winter. According to legend, Eostre once saved a bird whose wings had frozen during the winter by turning it into a rabbit. Because the rabbit had once been a bird, it could still lay eggs, and that rabbit became our Easter Bunny. Eggs were a symbol of fertility in part because they used to be so scarce during the winter. There are records of people giving each other decorated eggs at Easter as far back as the 11th century. (Writers’ Almanac – April 5, 2015)
Many words have been written about this holiday of Easter. For this brief reflection, I will focus on the sense that this holiday of resurrection, life, and hope points to something radically new. There is a real possibility of new life, of a new start, of a new way of seeing and being.
We each begin the year with a sense of a new start a blank slate, a tabula rasa. Whether it is the new year of the beginning of the academic year, or the New Year on January 1st, many of us make resolutions and set goals for the year ahead. For Christians, this holiday of Easter rests on the belief that God has turned the tables on our expectations; that life emerges even from death, and this life is radically new and abundant.
As we move into the final stretch of our school year, it may not feel to you like we have a clean slate, or that we have that fresh sense of newness. However, the gift is there for us, if we have eyes to see. Just as Spring brings new growth, God has also given us each the possibility of a rich and new life. Just as God breathed life into the world in the Creation story in Genesis, God also breathes life into us every day.
This is the moment of new creation.
This is the first day of God’s new week.
The darkness is gone, and the sun is shining. ~ N.T. Wright
I am not sure how aware you all are of a piece of the story of Jesus in John’s gospel, when Jesus appears to the disciples after he is crucified. Near the very end of the gospel, Jesus appears to the disciples and has a conversation with Peter while after Jesus cooks fish for them.
Peter is most definitely shocked to see Jesus after he has died, but also distraught that previously, he had denied knowing Jesus three times. In the appearance to Peter, Jesus offers Peter the opportunity for new life – as Peter is forgiven and empowered to live and lead what would become the church. The one who denied Jesus was forgiven and chosen to lead! And to lead a new life!
John 21: 15-17
The message here is that God offers forgiveness and new life to Peter, to his disciples and also to the likes of us. The possibility, and the reality, of a new and abundant life is always there for us, no matter our circumstances, no matter our past, no matter who we are. And so, for us, here in this place, even in the final stretch of the year, we each have the gift of a new and abundant approach to our lives!
A Prayer in Spring, by Robert Frost, 1915
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.