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Easter & Flower Communion: Resurrection is Transformation
Sunday, April 9 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am
As Unitarian Universalists, we recognize that our liberal faith is historically and spiritually rooted in Christianity. Therefore, we celebrate Easter, as well as the rebirth of nature and the resurrection of dreams and hopes. The Flower Ceremony, sometimes referred to as Flower Communion or Flower Festival, is an annual ritual that celebrates beauty, human uniqueness, diversity, and community. Rev. Dr. María Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa will be preaching.
How to Attend
We require masks in all buildings. We encourage all in person participants to be vaccinated. Read more about our In Person Guidelines here.
• To virtually attend, please Zoom in using room number 989 3107 9078, passcode: chalice.
• To phone into the service, call 669-900-6833, Meeting ID: 989 3107 9078.
For those joining, please mute as soon as you enter the room, so everyone can hear. Please note, the services will be recorded, but at this time, there are no plans to share the recording.
Religious Education will be egg dying and an egg hunt in the North Room Sanctuary Building. There are no other classes. Learn more here!
If you don’t have a chalice, but want to light one, check out our Making a Chalice at Home page.
Both virtual and in person services are followed by coffee hour.
Easter & Flower Communion: Resurrection is Transformation
A Reading from Mark, in our Singing the Living Tradition UU Hymnal:
“Easter Morning: on the first day of the week, at early dawn they came to the tomb, saying:
Who will roll away the stone before the entrance to the tomb?
They looked up and saw that the stone had already been rolled back, and on the right they saw a young man. They were alarmed. But the man said to them:
Why do you seek the living among the dead?
So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them. And they said nothing because they were afraid.”
Do you know who Mary Magdalene was? I’m going to paraphrase Anne Howard, an Episcopal priest who wrote this story: Mary Magdalene was a Jewish woman who followed Jesus. She was the first to proclaim the Easter story of the Resurrection but the aspostles didn’t believe her.
There are many legends about Mary Magdalene and it doesn’t matter whether it actually happened. Its truth is true enough to make us tell the story again and again. After the crucifixion, Mary Magdalene staged a protest in the court of Ceasar in Rome. She had a mission. She went to Rome to protest Pilate’s miscarriage of justice, and to announce the resurrection. As Mary Magdalene stood up to speak, Caesar was about to peel a hard-boiled egg.
When he heard her announcement of the resurrection, he held up the egg and said, “He can no more be raised from the dead than this egg can turn red.” And there, in his hand, the egg turned red.
That’s why Eastern Orthodox Christians dye their Easter eggs red, as a reminder that God can always do something entirely unexpected.” And I would add that is also why it is important to remember Mary Magdalene, for her courage in speaking our the truth, bearing witness to a horrible crime, presenting herself before the authorities and demanding justice, and yes, proclaiming the good news of the resurrection, believing in the possibility of new life, even as she stood at the foot of the cross.
In most Unitarian Universalist churches this morning there might be tension among those who believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, those who understand resurrection as a transformation of the self, those who celebrate Ostara, the goddess of Spring and dawn, and those who would rather only focus on the flower communion. I will count myself among all of them by celebrating all of the above!
Because we proclaim and encourage each other to practice theological diversity, I believe it is important to remind ourselves that our faith Unitarian Universalism is deeply rooted in Christianity. And that we who believe in the Resurrection need not feel like outsiders or people yet to attain enlightenment or “grow out of it” To be sure it would be easier to just focus on the flowers and skip the biblical stories all together. But if we are to truly be the theologically diverse congregation we present ourselves to be, then we must embrace our religious diversity. Embracing our religious diversity does not mean that I must believe exactly what you believe. It means that I can rejoice with you, sing Hallelujah with you, understand your spiritual journey and sources of strength a little bit better, expand my understanding of the resurrection and consider it a mystical experience that for believers, means that we are guided by Christ, that his presence in our lives encourages us to turn our lives around, to experience a kind of rebirth, to take courage and risk challenging the status quo. For those who experience the presence of Christ in our everyday lives, it means practicing loving our neighbors as ourselves.
The Rev. Carl Scovel explains in An Easter Faith that the resurrection comes with the recognition that any of our lives can always be transformed and begin again. The Resurrection comes with the Christ within us breaking forth, as if from the tomb, inviting us to be reborn by enacting the Christ-self we had forgotten or never known. Innumerable resurrections have happened again and again. By experiencing the risen Christ in their lives, some people have stopped drinking, changed jobs at great risk, and held their ground before dictators. And so much more. (See The Unitarian Universalist Christian Vol. 57, 2002: 32–35.)
The biblical accounts of the Resurrection are not stories of springtime, of the earth coming alive again after the harsh winter, or about bunnies, but about the disciples being terrified. I am writing this homily as I watch the news and I am terrified, I am afraid. We who believe in freedom and justice are terrified. Those who are supposed to protect us, instead abuse their power against the most vulnerable. We who believe in freedom will not rest. Like the women, who remained at the foot of the cross, we bear witness and we denounce injustice. We Unitarian Universalists have been called “Easter people” precisely because like Mary Magdalene, we get up and do the work of telling the story, testifying, denouncing evil, becoming prophets to dismantle systems of oppression, in the name of justice, proclaiming that another world is possible, a world that can only be transformed by love.
This morning’s flower communion is both a beloved UU tradition celebrating community and friendship, and a reminder that beauty is a source of joy and optimism and it can also be a way to resist evil.
My colleague Rev. Molly Housh Gordon writes:
“Is new life possible? Is love stronger, even, than death? The question itself invites us to rise up, and to live as though it were true—to make it true in our living.
The lesson … for us is this: You can crush Love down, bury it, cover it over, but it will rise. It will reach for the sun, and we will reach for each other.
The Easter story is here to say that loss, whatever it may be, is part of the human experience. And that it’s important to give yourself space to grieve that loss. And even as you grieve, this pain will serve as soil that allows seeds to start to grow into something new.
If we’ve learned nothing else these years, it is this: Even when everything is uncertain, even when we are grieving, even when the loss keeps coming, even when we are forced apart, even when we are bone-weary, we keep reaching for one another. We keep rising in love…”
Beloveds, whether we believe in the Resurrection with a capital R, or expand the meaning of resurrection to encourage us to transform ourselves and make meaning of the empty tomb to breathe life into ourselves and our Beloved Community, Easter Sunday inspires us and reaffirms our passion for social justice and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Let us reflect on the different meanings of the Resurrection. And think about what in your life needs renewal, or even what needs to be discarded, what is something in your life that is no longer life giving? How will you breathe new life into your relationships? How will you bear witness to injustice and proclaim the good news that transformation and new life is possible? As you think about this, and as you contemplate the flowers, may you feel the love of this community encouraging you, inspiring you, blessing you as you rise up to greet this new day. One truth that we can all bear witness to is that we have each other, that we raise each other up, and that together, we can breathe new life into this bruised and hurting world. Amen!