THE EASTER PROMISE WE NEED by Chris Girata
published in the Katy Trail Weekly, "The Good Word" Column, March 25, 2021
Chris Girata is the Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas, TX.
Religion is a hot topic for many. I imagine that many of you reading this do not identify as a religious person or perhaps you were raised in a religious environment but have drifted away. Although I don’t speak of religion explicitly in this column often, we are very close to Easter, and as you read this, Christians around the world will be preparing to celebrate Palm Sunday, followed by Holy Week, and the celebration of Easter on Sunday, April 4. This is the holiest week of the year for Christians as the story of Jesus is retold to reinspire the faithful. Even if you aren’t a religious person, this year, Easter has something special to offer you.
Culturally speaking, retailers hope that Easter is an opportunity to sell us lots of pastel candy and flamboyant flowers. To be honest, I’m always excited about Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, the absolute best version of their peanut butter cup. But besides the new clothes, frilly baskets and egg hunts for the kids, Easter makes a promise that we all desperately need right now.
This Easter, we have the opportunity to learn once more that the power of faith is the power to see beyond the pain of today to the hope of tomorrow.
The effect of the first Easter is apparent. Very quickly, seemingly inconsequential people living outside the power structure of Israel began telling a wild story of a Jewish teacher who came back from the dead. At face value, this story should have been met with skepticism and dismissed as a hoax, but it wasn’t. Over the course of a few hundred years, the earliest Christians expanded their circle so quickly that by the fourth century, the Roman Emperor Constantine believed that it was politically wise to accept this Jesus movement. Not only did he accept the Christians, but Rome quickly assumed Christianity as its official religious identity.
Much can be said about the negative impact of the unity between Christianity and the Roman Empire, but one thing should make us wonder: How did nobodies in the desert of Israel change the world? For me, the answer is simple. God made a promise that our lives have an inherent, spiritual purpose beyond serving ourselves, and even beyond that, the fear of death itself does not need to control us or separate us or keep us from loving one another.
This simple truth is one we often forget. We know that these past twelve months have changed us all forever. Far too many people have died, leaving countless more mourning their loss. Even if you’ve escaped the pain of mourning during this pandemic, how we go about our daily lives remains very different than it was just over a year ago, leaving many exhausted and many more feeling lost, sad, and depressed. This Easter, we have the opportunity to learn once more that the power of faith is the power to see beyond the pain of today to the hope of tomorrow.
We live in a world in constant flux with constant need. Each one of us needs something we cannot provide ourselves, and each one of us can help meet the needs of someone else. Put another way, we are not meant to live alone and isolated, but together and in a community. We are meant to connect with one another, help one another, and lift one another up.
The promise of Easter is one that can inspire each of us as we navigate our new post-pandemic world. Rather than simple slipping back into our old habits, perhaps we can be inspired to new ones that make us a bit more generous, and bit more kind, and a bit more hopeful. Easter means that we can be made new, that mistakes in our past do not have to define our future, and we can become the people we wish to be. This year, after months of uncertainty, I hope you can find hope in the promise of Easter to start fresh and to renew the spirit inside us.
Dr. Chris Girata was called to be the eighth Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels in Dallas and started his ministry at Saint Michael on Aug. 15, 2016. Chris is a native of Florida, a classically trained musician and an amateur cook. He and his wife, Nicole, have three children.
"The Good Word" Column is published bi-weekly, and can be picked up at the Saint Michael South Entrance.
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