From the isolation of our fears
you lead us out with everlasting arms of love.
In the mask that shrouds you in death’s mystery
we see the revelation of redemptive care.
The body wracked with pain and gasping for its breath
becomes a child now born anew into eternal life.
The door slammed shut on vain illusions
bursts before the power of a love come back to claim its own.
The tomb of dark despair
transforms into a garden of resplendent beauty.
Death’s black hole
becomes the pathway to a new creation.
The night in which we lost our way
becomes our life’s bright morning star.
Amen. Hallalujah. Amen.
Like many, many churches around the world, our own church has been producing videos services and presentations to keep our congregation connected in a public way during this shutdown of ordinary activity. I wrote these words to accompany this morning’s Easter Service prelude, Edward Elgar’s “Nimrod,” from his Enigma Variations, played by Kathy McNeil, whose organ performances have accompanied us through the week. At the end of the prelude, we then took in the pieces that Sylvia constructed two years ago, entitled “Bright Morning Star.” You can catch this and all our services, including more of Kathy’s organ pieces, at our YouTube.com channel, FUMC-Waynesville.
Unlike most churches, our location at the gateway to the Great Smokies National Park and its adjoining National Forests gives us plenty of marvelous venues outside of the church building. This morning’s service was photographed in part against the sunrise at nearby Waterrock Knob (5700 feet), while the earlier Maundy Thursday service took place at the waterfall adjacent to our former home near Waynesville. To be homeless, in part, can mean the opportunity to find other spaces that can be revelatory, embracing, even a sign of home. May this unfold in the lives of so many of our fellow humans, who are in anguished loneliness facing death, pain, suffering, and physical and financial loss. Our awareness of death and resurrection has a real bite this year. There is the possibility of real transformation in the air. Having lost our way, we might find a New Way to a better place for our world. May the care in our distancing become a new solidarity.
I viewed the full service on u-Tube and was pleased to be part of the congregation I have heard so much about. Your poetry is all the more powerful to me with Nature’s backdrop. What a blessing to have such a beautiful Spring Easter. The structure took me back to my childhood days as a Methodist (prior to United Methodist). The drama of the organ still absorbs me. Interestingly to me, other than the organ, I found myself distant when inside the church. The sermon on the mountainside stirred my old Christian roots, and the story of the small church which dedicated itself to its community reminded me how much I have always appreciated the Methodist outreach to social justice, particularly as an impressionable youth. Joining in your Easter celebration with the beautiful natural backdrops, your poetry, the prelude and sermon I found quite inspiring. Thanks to you and your congregation for crafting such a powerful Easter message.