April 11, 2020 - Pastor Message05/18/2021
“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb...You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs...It is the Passover of the Lord. For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn in the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on the gods of Egypt I the Lord! But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you...This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord, as a perpetual institution’” (Exodus 12:13,6-8,11-14).
The Passover is an annual feast by which the Jewish people celebrate God’s liberation of their ancestors in the faith from slavery in Egypt. This was the true beginning of the people of Israel, when God began to fulfill his promise to Abraham that he would make his descendents a great nation as numerous as the stars in the sky and give them a land of their own flowing with milk and honey. But Passover was only the beginning.
God liberated his people with great signs and wonders. He gave them the Law on Mount Sinai, sealing in stone the new covenant he made with them through Moses. But it would be forty years and an entire generation before they passed over into the Promised Land of Canaan. For forty years they wandered the desert, sometimes faithful, sometimes not, sometimes trusting in God, sometimes not. Yet, each year they celebrated the feast of Passover, remembering again God’s mighty deeds and renewing their faith in him that he would fulfill his promise. And so, in time, he did.
Easter is the Christian Passover, the annual feast by which we celebrate our liberation from slavery to sin and death by God’s greatest sign and wonder, the death and resurrection of his Son, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This saving event was the beginning of the new People of God, when all the promises of the Old Testament were fulfilled and God made a new covenant with his people, sealed not with tablets of stone but by writing it on our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit. He promised that all who believe in his Son and live in union with him would pass with him through death to share in his resurrection. But, like the Passover of old, this too was only the beginning.
Like the Israelites in the desert, we too live in an in-between time, between the promise, made in signs and wonders in Christ, and its fulfillment. Like them, we too are sometimes faithful, and sometimes not, tempted at every turn with doubt, fear, and the fleeting pleasures of this world. That desert experience is particularly oppressive this year as we continue to struggle through the COVID 19 crisis. Separated from family, friends, and our parish community, frustrated by mounting restrictions and deprivations, anxious about an unknown future, we can easily find ourselves complaining against God and our leaders and tempted to turn away from our faith.
Yet, in this time of our greatest darkness, we celebrate the feast of Easter, as we do every year of our great pilgrimage through the desert of this life. Though we cannot gather and do so together, we celebrate as best we can nonetheless, remembering again God’s mighty deeds in Christ and renewing our faith in his promise that we who share in Christ’s suffering and death will also share in his resurrection. Night will give way to dawn, suffering to salvation, death to eternal life. This is God’s promise, and despite whatever struggles we face along the way, we know it will be fulfilled because Christ is risen! Let this, our Easter proclamation, be our light in these dark times, and let us as Christ’s disciples shine that light brightly for all to see as we journey together through this and every desert of life to the eternal Promised Land.
Fr. Marc Stockton