Easter 2020: peril and promise

Dear friends,

This morning, I drafted a short blurb for the “Next Sunday” portion of today’s “What’s the Buzz” e-newsletter. The Sunday after next is April 5, which will be Palm Sunday; and our plans for that day, like all Sundays, have gone out the window in the face of the suspension of in-person gatherings.

I simply noted that April 5 is Palm Sunday and that more details would follow.

This year, Holy Week runs from April 5 to April 11, which is Holy Saturday. Good Friday is just two weeks from tomorrow and Easter is just two weeks from Sunday. Almost assuredly, we will not be able to physically gather on Easter; and this will stretch our creativity in how to mark it as a community of faith. If you have any ideas, please let me know — through a Comment on this post or its related Facebook thread, or by email, phone, or text.

Easter has been in the news this week. On Monday, the U.S. President said he wants the churches to be filled on April 12 and to have much of American society back to work. Some think this idea has merit, but the big majority of public health professionals think the idea is terrifying in its health implications. Given the disaster currently unfolding in New York City and New Orleans, I can understand the latter perspective.

As you may know, I have been horrified by Donald Trump ever since he announced his candidacy for the presidency in 2015. I assumed his administration would spell disaster for the world on multiple fronts; and his erratic response to the COVID-19 pandemic looks like it might lead to the worst result yet of his administration.

Here is what I wrote about his presidential victory at the short Reflection I offered at the wedding ceremony at which Kim I and were married Kim on November 12, 2016:

“For me, a tough reality on this night of celebration is that this is also the week that Donald Trump became President-Elect of the United States.

In the looming disaster of a Trump presidency, I see a lot of what I fear about this moment. In the face of growing human diversity, I fear racism and ethnic cleansing. In the face of evolving sex and gender roles, I fear sexism and domestic violence. In the face of climate change, I fear global paralysis. In the face of nationalism, tribalism, and religious fundamentalism, I fear more war. In the face of our need to discuss and organize around these matters, I fear censorship and repression.

And so, we have many challenges.

But this ceremony represents the other side of reality. Tonight, we are celebrating community, inclusion, and truth. We are focusing on faith, hope and love. And we are singing, dancing, and sharing our love for one another.

Tonight, we have made vows to uphold sacred values in family and neighbourhood; in nation and world; in good times and in bad; and in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

There are no easy solutions. But I am sure they will include all the work of lovers and friends, of spouses and families, and of churches and neighborhoods. This is the joyful work of each of us: to reach out with compassion to one another; to include people of all backgrounds and perspectives; to mourn and celebrate together; to work for justice and equality; and to remember our reliance on the source of Love we call God.

Those who preach fear and hate rip apart the human fabric. Those who preach hope and love try to mend that fabric. Tonight as we weave more threads into the rainbow of human love, let us remember that an injury to one is an injury to all; and that a blessing to one is a blessing to all.

I am glad that Kim and I chose to sing a lot music this evening. Thank you to everyone for coming to sing and celebrate with us. And we owe a special debt of gratitude to the musicians — Chris, Janet, Pam, Dawn, and Deb.

Next Sunday on November 20, Kim and I will sing in a concert of The Edmonton Metropolitan Chorus. All the pieces are by the 18th Century German-English composer Handel, and the one that has been going through my mind this week ends with the phrase, “So Love was crowned. But music won the cause.”

I love this chorus from Alexander’s Feast. It is based on an ode to St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, and written by poet John Dryden. I agree with Dryden. Love will be crowned, and music will help win the cause.

What can we do in the face of things like the U.S. election? I pray for an upsurge of creativity, community-building and activism by young people here and around the world. I am sure that every act of truth, compassion, and beauty strengthens the rainbow coalition of love.

Come what may, we can always sing, dance, and care for one another.

In the face of darkness, let there be light. In the face of fear, let there be hope. In the face of anger, let there be music.

This week, dark shadows loom. But love is always here to illumine the pathway home.

Love trumps hate. And music, music always wins the cause.

May it be so.”

This has been a theme that has guided me ever since.

This Lent as we prepare for an Easter like no other and as we look in horror to what is unfolding south of the Border, I am confident we will find ways to practice solidarity and compassion in community, and to sing together, despite physical barriers.

Love will be crowned again this Easter and music will help us win the cause.

Ian

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