Fr David’s Letter for the March Magazine, 2016
For the Christian, Easter is the most important season of the church year – even more significant than Christmas. Easter celebrates the reason God became the human, being born the sweet, dependable baby of the Christmas story – he was born to die and rise again. A story:
Once upon a time, there was an emperor, who lived in a grand palace set in the midst of a beautiful garden. Every morning, the emperor liked to walk through his garden looking at the beautiful plants and trees. The garden was completely surrounded by a high wall – on the other side of which lived his subjects, who farmed the land as best they could. Each morning, on his walk through the garden, the Emperor would stand beside a beautiful, tall poplar tree. It looked magnificent. “Master!” said the tree, for it was a magic tree, “Am I the most magnificent tree in the whole of your garden?”
“Oh, Yes, Poplar. You are the most magnificent of all my trees.” Said the Emperor. But suddenly, workmen appeared by the Emperor’s side and began to chop at the base of the tree with axes. They felled the tree and dragged the trunk by the high wall close by a stream that bubbled and wound its way around the palace grounds.
The next day, as the Emperor walked by, the workmen were chopping the branches off the tree. “Oh, master!” cried the tree, “ I thought you loved me as the most beautiful tree in the whole garden?”
“Oh, yes, Poplar. I do love you, more than all the other trees in the garden.”
The following day, the workmen cut the Poplar tree lengthways and hollowed out its trunk. The tree called out in desperation to the Emperor, “Oh Master, I thought you loved me so much, more than all the other trees!” As the workmen knocked a hole in the garden wall and thrust the trunk out through it, with one end in the nearby clear stream, the Emperor looked lovingly at the tree and said,
“Oh, yes, Poplar. I love you more than all the other trees in my garden. I love you so much. That is why I have chosen you for this special task, to take water from my stream to the surrounding land, which is so dry and arid and suffering from drought, so that my people may have life.
When Our Blessed Lord, Jesus – opened his arms upon the Cross, he did so in a gesture of love – and as he was nailed to that Cross he prayed for those who were nailing him there: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” And as Jesus opened his arms in love – he willingly absorbed all the hatred and all the bitterness and all the pain of this troubled world; he did not reflect it back into the world. Through his willing imprisonment on the Cross, Jesus broke the cycle of anger and taught us how to be free. He taught us how to love through forgiveness and compassion.
When on Easter Sunday morning he rose again from the dead – he gave us power to find the liberating freedom of love in desperate situations. We are all called to share Christ’s risen life, to embrace love and forgiveness, and by our humility, by our compassion, by our service – we can set each other free. That is the mission of the church: to give the life of God’s love to one another.
Your friend in Christ,