“Helen” belonged to a congregation 150 miles away. When dementia set in, her children moved her to a nursing home near my church. As I visited her, she recognized me as a pastor. But she thought she was still in her hometown, and that I knew everyone from there. As sad as Helen’s confusion was, she taught me something important.
Sometimes I wonder what it means to be Easter people. How are we to celebrate resurrection amidst such a violent world? The terrorist bombing in Manchester, England, is added to a long list of evil and tragic events in recent memory. Over-focusing on the horror of these incidents overwhelms us with fear. But ignoring these tragedies and living in denial permits crises to grow worse. How do we celebrate new life, when surrounded by the continuing power of death?
Helen often spoke cheerfully of a mission group at her church. Every week, their meetings ended with the World Peace Prayer. Even when her memory was at its worst, she recited these words perfectly:
“Lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth.
Never miss a local story.
Lead us from despair to hope, from fear to trust.
Lead us from hate to love, from war to peace.
Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe.”
Maybe this is some of what it means to be an Easter people — to have our lives so anchored in Christs’ work of promoting new life, justice, and peace, that such hope cannot be torn from us.
Rev. Tim Darmour-Paul
Grantfork United Church of Christ