God’s Promises : You are my son/daughter, I give you life, I will never stop loving you — and I have never stopped loving you, no matter what you did, or ever will do.
HOPE – based on the fact that God is always true to his promises.
The great poet, Emily Dickenson, wrote that “‘hope’ is the thing with feathers”. If we carry that through, then hope is like a bird: you hear it, then you don’t hear its song; you see it, then it flies somewhere and you don’t see it. But unlike a bird, hope never really flies away — it is always near to us, even when we don’t realize it. [Scripture images the Spirit as a bird.] The three most important Holy Days of our Faith — we have just lived through them, with hope. If we took them as merely “historical” of “play-like reenactments”, we have missed their truth, their being the source of our hope.
Holy Thursday – Jesus, in heightened awareness of what he wants to do before being arrested, gives us his very self as Eucharist — his body and blood, his very being by which we become one with him, fed, nourished and, one with one another, because we are all sisters and brothers, united — actually one body. Christ’s body. Was the bird sitting in the open window space? Hope was present at the Last Supper. Did it fly near Judas when he went out to meet the enemies — never giving up that he might embrace hope before it was too late? Was the bird sitting in a tree in the Garden? Of course. And it went with Jesus all through the arrest, questioning, beatings, mockery, sentencing to death. It was always present — as it was with us this past Holy Thursday and the silence of the vigil that night.
Good Friday – If one looked very carefully, not focused solely on him who was carrying the Cross, one could see the bird darting in and out of the crowd. Hope was always accompanying him. This was not “paying our debt to the Father, a precious and exquisite blood sacrifice to ransom us”. God in Jesus wanted us to know that he would make sure hope was always present at every moment in our lives — as he lived through anything and everything terrible and painful that any one of us might sometime endure: rejection, bullying, mockery, hatred, beatings, intense pain searing body and spirit, desertion by loved ones, loss, aloneness, wondering where God was and did God care, did anyone care? Hope helped him through every moment, through it all [God was true to his promises] — even the nails through his body, the pain, the suffocation, the dying. Jesus went through everything that any one of us might ever experience when this life slips away. Three days in a tomb, really dead. He knew that we had to know it — to believe as everyone else did, that it was over. Yet the “thing with feathers”, the bird, hope, was in the trees outside the tomb — singing? Hope always sings.
Holy Saturday / Easter – What a brilliant song, what a soaring and darting flight when the stone was rolled away. HOPE — God is always true to his promises — Jesus lives. WE live. You and I live. And we always will. Jesus immersed himself in suffering — not because it was attractive or good. He knew it was necessary to go through it with HOPE to show each of us that it could be done! He did it. We can do it. Though part of our lives may or may not bring terrible suffering, we will each finally enter a tomb — while HOPE waits outside for us — singing. New and endless life found Jesus, as it will find you and me. We will join him and one another in the song. HOPE is the meaning of Easter.