Northeast Anglican - March 2021 - Lent and Easter Issue
“And what shall they know of Easter who only Easterknow"?
As many of you know, I recently returned from a long vacation, the longest vacation I have taken in years – perhaps ever. The Hawaii respite was much needed and Ljuba and I enjoyed our time away. She will stay in Hawaii for two more months, escaping Winter. It has been my sad fate to return to the Northeast where, in the ten days since my return, we have experienced at least three snow storms. Many of us spend our vacation time catching up on reading. I am no different. I do select some books to bring along, but I often pick up one or two along the way. At one airport bookstore, I bought Ian McEwan's new book, Machines Like Me. I can't say I recommend this book, because it is a rather bleak read. Like many of the author's books,this one leaves its reader struggling with several moral dilemmas. And all of Ian McEwan's books usually end badly for the major characters. In this case, our hero buys a robot. This robot functions exactly like a human being; only, in many ways, he is superior to the most brilliant among us. This robot, named Adam, can accomplish even the most difficult of tasks better than any real human being. He is great at lotteries and wins his owner a fortune.He reads all the great books of literature, philosophy and theology in record time. He is great at everything. But he has a major flaw: he doesn't understand love. He can never tell a lie, this robot. He follows all the rules. He reports even the most minor infraction to the police.Because he cannot know love, he cannot know forgiveness. And this leads to tragedy for those around him.
There is one quote that I remember very clearly from Machines Like Me. It is this: “And what should they know of England who only England know?”It is a striking phrase,written by Rudyard Kipling. He suggests that, if you have only known England, if you have experienced nothing else, you really do not know England. I have paraphrased this quote as the title of this Lenten message: “And what shall they know of Easter...” What shall we know of Easter.There are some folks who attend church services on Christmas Eve and Easter.And that's it. What, then, do they know of either? What do we know of Easter who known only of the Resurrection? Well, we don't know much. We don't know the cost of Easter; we don't know about the journey to the cross; we don't know about the sacrifice of God; we don't know of the depths of forgiveness; we don't know of the love that brought Jesus to the Cross. In other words, we might maintain a slight – even robotic– faith. But we do not know Easter when we only Easter know.
We need this time of Lent, when the days grow longer and the light increases. We need this season of Lent to prepare ourselves for the great festival of Easter. We need Lent to know what Jesus went through for us. We need these forty days, forty days that end in agony and death. We need this particular time to know about the enor- mous love of God. We need this time, this time spent in the remote and penitential season of Lent, to know of the splendor of Eastertide. We need this time to learn more and more what it is to truly love
Your Brother in Christ,