We will of course lose the sense of it, being fallen as we are, but at the moment it seems possible to be buried with Christ and rise with him as well- that is to participate in Resurrection.
I have just been to the Vigil and First Celebration of Easter at St. Peter's in Lewes, Delaware. And with a small group we did it all. This is still a parish that knows that Easter is about Sunday morning, thank you very much, so we were few but it was fine.
Gathered with them I remembered other vigils: in Campus Ministry at the U of Delaware, an amazing ecumenical event with Eucharist at midnight and some of us staying on until dawn talking about what we thought of resurrection, and then we all walked home; the vigil at St. Thomas, Newark, with Bob Duncan as rector / celebrant and Bishop Kolini visiting so that he could participate in a 'high church' service; and another vigil later with Yvan Francois reading out of the dark in a thick Haitian accent.
And then Dan Martins posted pictures on his blog of his new parish, and the Altar on Good Friday, and the Altar of Repose with its simple light filled space: and it reminded me of Fr. Donald George, chaplain at Tulane University, whose devotions in Holy Week forty years ago formed me in ways not clear even yet. His spiritual aesthetic was formative of many of us and not one of his students will forget.
How odd that I find myself agreeing with people across this or that divide: agreeing on something that creeps in and catches us all unawares. I hunger for a spiritual renewal that is met by being fed by the simplest of things - an altar washed and reduced to its plainest meaning; a cross plain or given a body, but still a cross upon which to gaze, and perhaps upon which to dwell. It gets simpler and simpler. The rot and ruin of our lives and of the church's life and indeed of the faith's outward appearance, falls away. And, I suspect, we all know that. And there the divides fail.
I will draw from whom I please. Bob Duncan did good Holy Week. Jack Spong got me through the speculative study of the Witness to a new place of understanding that the three days are not three, but as many as it take for us to get from death to resurrection. John Dominic Crossin has gotten me further down the road than almost anyone except Charles F. W. Smith who showed me how to look at the Parables. It goes on and on. Louie Crew tells me that God loves absolutely everybody, and Yvan Francois a priest from Haiti reminds me that well, perhaps, but God still has a preference for the poor. It goes on and on. Even noted non-believers work at my formation: Hunter S. Thompson does a rousing modern version of John of Revelation fame; Allen Ginsburg grieves better than anybody; Gandhi walked before me and you, and so forth and so on.
This is a time to remember that on Easter and perhaps forever, the oddest sort of group will gather and stand up and shout, He is Risen.
I'm glad to be among them.
And can this turn the wheel?