A Letter from Bishop Candea- 2020 May Newsletter

 

BISHOP

Rev. Susan Candea

scandea@css>-elca.org

Resurrection not Resuscitation

It has barely been a month since I wrote a letter to the synod asking that we not panic but "pause" and suspend all in person gatherings for the next few weeks. Now, a month later, we are still under statewide stay at home orders, and the peak of the virus outbreak is still to come. This pause became much more than a brief "take a breath and slow down." It was an abrupt stop to so much that we consider "normal," churches full of people on Easter Sunday, and for many, myself included, it felt like someone or something slammed on the brakes and we went flying, finding ourselves flat on our faces wondering what in the world happened? How could this happen to us?

But perhaps this feeling that has left us dazed, confused and even anxious is precisely the pause we are invited into this Easter season. I think that is why I was so struck by what Julio Vincent Gabato wrote in his article entitled Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting. "What happened is in-explicably incredible. Its the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but The Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound. Please dont recoil from the bright light beaming through the window. I know it hurts your eyes. It hurts mine, too. But the curtain is wide open. What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views."

I would add that this crisis has given us a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see our churches in the plainest of views. It has also given us the opportunity to truly experience not merely resuscita-tion, but resurrection, which happens only through death. We dont celebrate Jesusresuscita-tion on Easter, a dead body that came back to life unchanged to eventually die again. Resurrec-tion is about new life through death. Resurrection is about change and transformation. That is the focus of Easter, and I believe that needs to be our focus in the weeks and months ahead because we are not going back to "normal." Let me repeat that – things are not going back to the way they were before. This pandemic has changed us, our view of the world (we are all con-nected), of our country (there are huge inequities), of ourselves (we are not immune from trag-edy and our actions have profound impacts upon the lives of others.) The curtain is wide open and we cant go back and pretend we havent seen or experienced this incredible suffering.

Even as I say that I can feel a tightening in my chest. I want things to be normal again, to be the way they were before this pandemic hit, to go back to doing things in ways that were famil-iar and comfortable. The truth is Jesus didnt die and rise again to keep things going in the same way as they were before. Jesus died and rose again to bring new life and transform the world through Gods love. Are we willing to truly celebrate resurrection and be transformed?

In his book Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth, Walter Bruegeemann prays that God would "Easter us." (page 166). That is my prayer for us as a church. I dont exactly know what that means. Jesus didnt rise again with a blueprint for life. He rose to be a living presence in a com-munity that was called to be his body and participate in Gods transformation of the world. I believe that this is the challenge and joy of this season, of this time, and that together as the body of Christ we can, and in fact are, being "Easter-ed." For it is not a resuscitation. It is resur-rection that we celebrate.

Bishop Susan Candea

Central States Synod, ELCA

A LETTER FROM BISHOP CANDEA


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