Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!
Easter is the essential season of promise. It tells us of the power of goodness, life and light in a world that often seems to falling apart into pain and broken-ness. It comes, in the northern hemisphere, at the best time of year for such a promise: Springtime. Soon snow and mud will give way to leaf and blossom!
This is also a time in which we should remember that all things can be made new, including the Church. Our friends in the Roman Catholic Church have found themselves to be entering a new season of their life with Pope Francis and, by the grace of God, will find itself heading in some new directions as the pope did in his own life. He took the name deliberately, it seems, in honour of Francis of Assisi, who is revered well beyond Catholicism for his humility, voluntary poverty and peacemaking. The new Francis, like his namesake, is challenging a wealthy and top-heavy Church, with crises in its own structures and culture. The original Francis was challenged directly by Christ in the decaying little Church of San Damiano to“go repair my house which, as you see, is falling completely to ruin" The symbolism of all this will be immensely powerful, not least for those whose hope and prayer is for a wind of revivifying change to blow through the corridors of the modern Catholic Church, and perhaps, especially its hierarchyThe old Francis started at the local level and worked up. The new Francis is starting at the top and trying to work down. Both directions have their challenges and difficulties.
The Roman Church is not the only branch of the wider Church that needs “a wind of revivifying change”, we can all use some of that on a regular basis, uncomfortable as it sometimes may be. But that’s all part of the package of us being the “Resurrection People” we are invited to be. The new life we are offered challenges us to reach out and grasp it. Our issues may not be identical to Rome’s but they are analogous even as they are uniquely our own. We are called to face them and to repair and build up what we have received in all its glory and dilapidation and the Episcopal Church and St James’ parish have some of both, physical and spiritual. I pray that we are not ‘falling completely to ruin’ but there is much to be done. At the same time, the Resurrection promises us that, with the grace of God, all things are possible. Christ first died in brokenness on the cross. Then he rose again. Alleluia!