MESSAGE FROM OUR VICAR
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a way as gives us breath;
Such a truth as ends all strife;
Such a life as killeth death.
Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a light as shows a feast;
Such a feast as mends in length;
Such a strength as makes his guest.
Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a joy as none can move;
Such a love as none can part;
Such a heart as joys in love.
- George Herbert
On Five Easter, May 10, we will hear Jesus in the Gospel According to John say “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” These breathtaking words catch us up short in their concise, condensed meaning. Jesus, as the icon of the invisible God, shows us the way to live according to his model and pattern. He is the truth about the fundamental nature of reality. He is the life that creates, sustains, and permeates all life. We could spend our whole lives studying this statement and never wring out all of the meaning that these little nine words carry.
The 17th century English poet George Herbert makes a good start though. The Easter message reminds us that Jesus is “such a way as gives us breath.” That in itself is a miracle. I am aware, with all of those suffering from coronavirus related pneumonia, what a gift it is to breathe. The airways need to be relaxed and clear for breathing. My organ instructor pointed out to me that when I was playing a difficult passage, I would hold my breath, an old, unhelpful stress pattern of mine. During some difficult times the best advice from friends has been, “Just keep breathing in and out.” When I repeated those words to myself, my breathing became a prayer that would help me walk with God through seemingly impossible situations. God does that kind of thing, by making a way where there seems like no way. Just when the Israelites arrived at the edge of the Red Sea with the Egyptians pursuing them close behind, God made a way for them to pass through. Even though Jesus’ death seemed like the end to his disciples, God raised him from the dead transforming his death into a way of redemption.
Jesus is also the “truth that ends all strife.” He came to live and die as one of us. His pattern of life tells the truth of what it means to suffer as a human being. He offered the gospel and healing to those around him despite the consequences. He faced his fear, and sought to please God alone. Strife is conquered in the truth that we are beloved and our sins are forgiven. Strife, our constant drive to earn our salvation, dries up in the recognition that regardless of our actions, we are loved and accepted by God.
Jesus is the life that kills death. Created in the divine image, we are meant to share in Christ’s divine life. This means ever ything we do is infused with sacramental meaning. Our ethics are shaped by an awareness of the sharing of this divine life. Jesus’ resurrection means that death no longer has dominion over us. People who hoard money or goods of any sort, often do so for fear of death. No longer enslaved to worry about death having the last say, we are free to love. We open our hands to God and our neighbor. As Christians, we trust that though we die, yet we shall live. We share in Christ’s resurrected life even now.
These words have special meaning in our world today. We can say with Herbert, “Come my light, my feast, my strength.” We need Christ’s light to know the next steps to take as a post COVID- 19 church. We invite the Bread of Life to enter our hearts in new ways when we cannot take the Eucharist together. We rely on Christ’s strength to be our strength as we are worn down navigating a strange new world.
During the fifty days of Eastertide from Easter to Pentecost it is more important than ever, even amidst a suffering world, to open our hearts like Herbert, proclaiming, “Come my Joy, my Love, my Heart.” Even now, Eastertide is a time of feasting in thanksgiving for the great gift given us in the Paschal mystery. This is a joy and love that cannot be stolen from us regardless of the restrictions placed on our bodies. This is a heart broken open by the self-sacrificial love of Christ that joys in love.
Yes it is difficult. People are suffering. We are too. AND we rejoice in the risen Christ and look to a Pentecost with the Holy Spirit coming to alight on us with tongues of fire.
We strive to know Christ more deeply and bring others to his redeeming grace.
ST. BEDE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
1609 Elm St. Forest Grove, OR