Acts 10:34a, 37-43
When I was young, it was a tradition to get a new outfit for Easter-a spring dress, shiny new shoes and new ribbons for my sister’s hair (mine was always too short and too curly for ribbons.) One of my favorite pictures of my Italian grandmother is on an Easter Sunday where she has her new dress and a new hat, standing on tiptoes with her high heel shoes so she would appear taller. We all wanted to look our best for Easter Sunday.
That’s an important aspect of Easter-the “newness” of life that comes to us because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Somehow though, we have equated newness with outward appearances of looking beautiful, impressive-even striving for perfection. Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber challenges this perspective:
“The God of Easter, the God who brings life out of death doesn’t want to make you impressive, this God isn’t satisfied with making you good or nice. If you think that’s what resurrection looks like, if you think it looks like perfection and piety and therefore you haven’t experienced it, you might be wrong. Because God isn’t about making you spiffy. God isn’t about making you nicer. God is about making you new. And new doesn’t always look perfect, with a fabulous new dress because like the Easter story itself, new can be messy.
New looks like recovering alcoholics.
New looks like reconciliation between family members who don’t actually deserve it.
New looks like every time I manage to admit I was wrong and every time I manage to not mention when I’m right.
New looks like the lumpy awkward forgiveness we manage to scrounge up despite ourselves.
New looks like every fresh start and every act of forgiveness and every moment of letting go of what we thought we couldn’t live without and then somehow living without it anyway.
New is the thing you never saw coming …never even hoped for, but ends up being what you needed all along and it happens to all of us.
Because as Jesus said…the world according to God is near to us. And God simply keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and pulling us out of the graves we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over.”
We certainly participate in this “new” life for our patients, residents and families in our Catholic health care ministry at St. Mary’s through our programs, services and individual patient encounters. But hopefully you are experiencing this newness for yourselves in the times God is loving you back to life after disappointments, frustration, misunderstandings or other challenges.
Happy Easter! Happy New Life!