New Clothes for Easter

What garment will you wear on this Easter Sunday?

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb.

John 20

Christ is alive!

We arrive now at the tomb on Easter morning, 2020. What a strange and uncertain Holy Week this has been. Staying at home. Staying in place.

Are we also, in a sense, resurrecting in place?

If so, then a meme I saw yesterday seems particularly wisdom-sparking for me:

We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.

Sonya Renee Taylor, Overgrow the System
Sheila Hunter, used by permission.

If we are resurrecting in place, then we have a chance to change our place, our spaces of life and work, our communities, our cities and towns. We have a chance to stitch a new Easter garment, one we sew together with Christ’s life-threads of resurrection justice, grace, redemption, and hope.

Christ is alive.

And Christ calls to us in the gardens where we are living and working, urging us not to go back to normal but instead to do something different, to think different thoughts, to be motivated by different attitudes, to be clothed in love. Christ calls us to be resurrected into new life.

Ode to Resurrection

while it is still dark

we squint to see the path
to see anything

how are we to
believe in
hope for
crocus hallelujahs
when winter’s nomads
run wild through springtime’s

while it is still dark

it is no easy matter to see–
believe in
finding that not-yet-discovered
easter egg burrowed
deep in winter’s nest of
unremembered leaves

and yet–

“our time is not what defines the hour”

weary feet travel treacherous roads
tear-tired eyes peer into cavernous not-knowing
fearing death–
yearning for
irreverent light

while it is still dark

autumn’s summer remembrances
cultivate seeds in wintry graves
while all creation groans
toward spring

“our time is not what defines the hour”


while it is still dark

we keep on rising up
in the half-light
get dressed for the day’s work
and make our way
as best we can
hoping for
believing in
easter signs in
wilderness places

With Our Eyes on the Sparrows

God holds the sparrows and us–each and every one of us–in God’s eyes.

Sparrows love the camellia bush just outside our back door. The bush bloomed with extraordinary enthusiasm this spring. Maybe the sparrows just can’t get enough of the flowers’ pink lemonade. 

Whatever the reason, sparrows are bounteous and busy in our backyard. And they are quite fearless too. Just yesterday one of them landed with confidence on the deck rail and stared me in the eye. Do sparrows play chicken? 

Until my encounter with that particular plucky sparrow, I had not given much thought to these tiny, inauspicious birds. Our yard teems with them, darting from fence post to forsythia to tree limbs to lamp post, and their earth tone patchwork costuming has never inspired my eyes. 

But sparrows seem to inspire God’s eyes because they show up by name in the Gospels as luminaries in one of Jesus’ proverbs:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10

This week I have watched our backyard sparrows with what has become a thrum of statistics and numbers and quantitative predictions rumbling in my heart and mind. How many people will test positive with COVID-19? Of those, how many will need ventilators? How many ventilators are available? What percentage of the COVID-19-positive will die? How many points will the Dow fall today? How many people will lose their jobs?

The most troubling question that has joined my heart-thrum is one implied by a political leader in Texas several days ago: How many people (and what demographic of people) should be willing to sacrifice treatment to “save the country”? 

Jesus’ choice of sparrows for his proverb was intentional and prophetic. Vendors in those times sold sparrows for people to offer as temple sacrifices. Sparrows were cost effective. Two for a penny.

And yet–Jesus sees prophetic wisdom in sparrows. Maybe that is because they delight God’s eyes with their subtle but profound diversity. Ask birdwatchers. They will tell you that the U.S. is a home for the Tree Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, House Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Seaside Sparrow, Field Sparrow and at least 30 more types. To see the feathery nuances of all of these types, watchers have to hold the sparrows in their eyes. 

An old hymn sings of sparrows: 

His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know he watches me—

Civilla D. Martin, 1905

God holds the sparrows and us—each and every one of us humans—in God’s eyes. 

Our local and global human communities face many tests in this crisis moment. A test question I consider most critical to our future flourishing is this:  Will we hold the sparrows in our eyes as we make decisions about numerical bottom lines? 

This question dwells at the heart of what I believe is the Gospel. Perhaps now is our time, as communities of faith, to do what we have not done in Gospel spirit and truth across our collective history. Perhaps now is the time to learn to care for each and every person and in particular for those who have been and are most vulnerable. Perhaps now is the time to keep our eyes on the sparrows and from that vantage point wrestle with the complex moral questions that are arising out of the mist with each new pandemic-plagued day.

In this, for me, nests our hope–that even as God cares for us, we are called to care for each other. Yes, God is calling us in these days–“keep your eyes on the sparrows.” I pray that I will have the wisdom and courage to do just that, in the name of the One who creates, redeems, and sustains us and our world.