Holy week has officially begun and the annual sprint to the finish… or rather, the beginning. As my Rector pointed out, sometimes it’s hard to find new meanings to the timeless story we tell year after year. It’s easy to get bogged down in the superficial and cliched notions of what this season of Easter is all about. I am reminded of my Jewish relatives who also point out their challenge at this time of year as they search for newness in an ancient story of Passover and liberation.
As I reflected on the story myself, I tried to identify key moments that stood out to me of significance. I tried to go into the historical and political components of the story, to piece together a point of view that might adhere to my rational self, but to be honest, my heart kept returning to the same idea. The overwhelming truth that I am loved, unconditionally, and forgiven so that I can know true reconciliation. It’s a powerful message and one that I, personally, need to hear– over and over again.
For me, this message of love and forgiveness is wonderfully shown in the Apostle Peter. A man who deeply loved Jesus yet, even though he believed it could never happen, denied even knowing him at one of the most critical moment of Christ’s earthly life. The anguish he must have felt when he realized that in that moment his fear had overcome his faith must have been excruciating. However, unlike Judas, who let that same shame and sadness drive him to his death, Peter carried on and sought forgiveness from God. Beautifully, when Jesus appeared after his death he seems to restore Peter and name him the rock on which he would build his church. I am always moved by the way Peter fits into Jesus’ story and how much like Peter we are.
The Church gives us a very precious thing in providing us over 50 days to wrestle with the notion that God clarified in the narrative of Jesus, what he had meant from the beginning of our creation– that he loves us and that no barrier exist between us and that love that cannot be conquered. I say “wrestle” with this notion because it’s easy to skim along the surface of the platitude that “God loves us”, but it is another thing to truly grasp the depth of the second half of that statement, that “no barrier exists… that cannot be conquered”. As we emerge from the pensive qualities of Lent, may we find newness in the love reflected in the Eastertide story and may it leave us truly changed.