We all know that Lent lasts 40 days, but when it comes to Easter many people seem ready to move on after the first day. In fact, the Easter season is 10 days longer than Lent, the idea being that, for those who believe in the Resurrection, joy is always greater than penance.
In that spirit, we offer the following reflection from Father Dave Noone, a retired priest of the Diocese of Albany who preaches on behalf of Unbound, inviting the faithful to sponsor a child, youth or elder in need. This was first published prior to Easter Sunday as part of a weekly series of prayerful reflections we send by email to interested persons.
Easter in New Zealand falls in winter, and one could feel the cold walking into that old church in Dunedin that Easter Sunday morning. As we entered, the greeter handed each of us a single daffodil, as if to say, “Don’t worry. Spring is coming soon.”
But, as it turned out, those daffodils weren’t meant to say something to us but, rather, to help us give added expression to the meaning of Easter.
After the pastor read the story of how God raised Jesus from the dead and gave him not only new life but “newness of life,” he reminded us of how often God has given “newness” to our lives as well. When we realize this, Easter becomes a celebration of what God did for Jesus and does for us.
Churches are often places in which God has raised people up, and we were each invited that Easter morning to place our daffodil anywhere in the church that represented where we’d had such an experience.
Daffodils were placed on the altar, the baptismal font, the lectern, the presider’s chair, the floor in front of the confessional, the organ, and even the windowsill beneath the stained glass. The whole church was decked out in daffodils.
Of course, God isn’t restricted to working in churches. Once, while making an Unbound appeal at a parish in Chicago, a young lawyer told me that he starts every morning with the Prayer of St. Francis: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith …
“It’s a way to remind me,” he said, “to look for opportunities in the day to be an ‘instrument of peace.’”
God can use anything or anyone, including you and me, to bring newness of life to those who need that gift. And, as I’ve traveled from parish to parish, I have surely witnessed God working through Unbound, not just to “raise up” those being sponsored, but to raise those who are sponsors as well.
That morning in that New Zealand church, I came to a deeper appreciation of Easter. It’s an appreciation that has grown stronger since.
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