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Rector's Reflections

Easter Reflection

By April 3, 2024No Comments

Beloved St. John’s community,

Steven Charleston is a Choctaw Native and retired Episcopal Bishop, whose book The Four Vision Quests of Jesus was studied by a St. John’s Lenten group over the last seven weeks. In it, he interprets four major events in the life of Jesus from the lens of Native American vision quests: his time in the wilderness, the transfiguration, Gethsemane, and the cross. In this last and culminating time in the life of Jesus—the Cross, which we just visited on Good Friday—Jesus becomes one with all humanity: men and women and non-binary; queer and straight; people of every color of the rainbow; rich and poor; the oppressed and the oppressors; aged and young.

Bishop Charleston says:

The death of Jesus, therefore, was not required by God to stave off divine retribution against a fatally flawed humanity that deserves eternal punishment, but an act of self-sacrifice and love so profound that it bought enough Good Medicine in the world to heal the broken hoop of the nation for every person on earth. The fourth vision quest restored the most essential aspect of creation: kinship….Easter, [therefore], is not about eternal life for the few who have a personal relationship with Christ … it is about daily life for the many who need to have a personal relationship with one another because until we do see one another as related we will go on perpetuating the suffering of our human family… What Easter offers us is a way to live into our accountability for one another in the here and now. What happens in the afterlife is completely the gift of God. We have no control over it and no need to worry about it. Our task is to maintain the balance of life in this dimension… The Resurrection opens the door to our tomb, not by promising us eternal life for ourselves, but by taking us out into the light to see one another more clearly.

One of St. John’s core values is belonging, or kinship. We are learning, every day, to recognize how we are truly all family. You and I, and our neighbors in Gaza and Israel, and fruit flies and your pet yellow lab, oak trees and Spanish moss, your children and your parents—we are all related, caught into an unbroken circle of life, and called to live in harmony with all life, balancing and respecting the whole.

For Christians, Jesus has taken the whole—every person, arguably all species and all life—into his spirit on the Cross. He has done so to be in solidarity with us, to transcend every category of difference, to offer a visual representation of the vast web of life concentrated in one human being who chooses to experience not our best moments, but the depth of our suffering. Because God in human form has so empathized with each one of us, we can empathize with one another. We can learn to see with eyes that have been born anew, born from the empty tomb, born from Mary Magdalene who finally recognized her Beloved in the garden.

My prayer is that this Eastertide, we will all experience a transformation of consciousness so profound that we can no longer perceive ourselves as isolated individuals, but as family. And that we will learn, truly, to “love our neighbors as ourselves”—to act in love on behalf of the whole community.

My beloved, you are my family, and I am yours.

Alleluia, Christ is risen!