He is risen!
In each of the 36 years since I was ordained, I have crafted an Easter homily and written numerous Easter messages for the parish or diocesan bulletins and digital outlets. I still have a number of these messages on my computer. I suppose in crafting this message, I could have gone back and gleaned something to say from what I had written in the past. There is quite a bit of material there, and it might not be the worst idea I’ve had in a while to recycle it and use it as a source once again. One could say I was even being a little intellectually “green.” Seemed like a plan.
However, I began to reconsider this “plan” once I opened up the Easter Scriptures. All of what I had written in the past was based, of course, on the resurrection accounts from the four Gospels. Rather than read and reuse what I had said about these Gospel passages, shouldn’t I go and get right to the source itself and read not what I had written in the past but what the Gospel writers under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit had written in the past? Seems like the better plan.
I don’t know about you but every time I sit down in study and prayer with Scripture, a passage that I may have read or heard numerous times always presents me with something new: a new detail I missed before, a phrase that I hear differently, an insight that emerges that I hadn’t pondered before. All of this is attached to the truth that Scripture is the “living Word of God.” You and I do not read Scripture in a vacuum. It is always read or proclaimed within the concrete circumstances of our lives.
It is “living” not just because we are living, breathing human beings but because it is alive with the power of the Holy Spirit in this moment and place in history. Think about how different it is to sit in a church in Vermont and hear the Easter Gospels proclaimed versus our sitting in the wreckage of a church in an outskirt of Kyiv in Ukraine on Easter Sunday morn for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Surely the hope of the Easter truth would be heard in an oh-so different way.
The living Word of God is announcement of salvation that then leads to an enactment of that salvation in the Church’s liturgy and the life of the faithful of the Church, the Body of Christ. It is alive now! It is powerful now! It is transformative now! And it calls us “out of darkness into a His marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).
As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, let us embrace the truth that “Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again,” each in our own life’s circumstance, spreading the Good News to His praise and glory forever.
And that is the best plan!
The Most Reverend Christopher J. Coyne
Bishop of Burlington
—Originally published in the April 16-22, 2022, edition of The Inland See.