We hope that every pastor – and every church board member – who has been working so diligently to lead through these challenging times will be able to find rest and restoration in this week where, biblically speaking, God performs the work of resurrection!
There will be plenty of time, starting next week, to imagine how to lead your faith community into this new future. For this week, please receive John Updike’s poem “Seven Stanzas at Easter” as a potential moment of pause and contemplation.
The year was 1960. John Updike (1932-2009) was twenty-eight years old and attending a Lutheran church in Marblehead, Massachusetts, when he wrote “Seven Stanza at Easter” as an entry for his congregation’s religious arts festival. The poem won the festival prize of $100, beating out 95 other entries. Updike gave the $100 back to the congregation.
We wish you a blessed and joyful Easter!
Seven Stanzas at Easter
by John Updike
Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.
It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.
The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.
And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.
Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.