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Holy Week 2022

I remember listening to someone tell a story about a visitor they’d had from central Africa. The visit took place in Alberta in the early winter. The weather was cool and the landscape was colourless and dull. The trees had dropped their leaves weeks before and now stood like lifeless skeletons against the backdrop of grey November clouds. This was the visitor’s first time away from his homeland where green, verdant landscapes were the norm all year long. He was stunned when he saw the lifeless winter scenes around him and he asked his host what had happened to kill all the trees. The host tried his best to explain to him about how our trees were not dead but dormant, and how they drop their leaves in the Fall and then come back to life in the Spring, but the visitor could not conceive how this could be possible. I suppose the only way he could really start to understand would be experience Spring for himself. I do not know if he ever got the chance.

I often think of this story as Easter approaches as it helps me to appreciate how confusing and troubling things would have been for those who followed Jesus. They would have heard him speak about what must happen to him, but they could not understand how death could possibly lead to life. They had no experience of their own to compare with. Their experience was that they lived under the shadow of death and death was final. The resurrection of Jesus would have been as foreign of a concept to them as Springtime was to the visitor from Africa.

We are fortunate in that our experience teaches us that Springtime always follows the little death of Winter. We look forward to this rebirth and new life because we know it will happen. We can also live in the hope of the resurrection because we know that Jesus has already accomplished it and invites us into the new life that is possible because of it. Resurrection is timeless in that our experience of it is past, present, and future. We live in hope because we live in Jesus who has gone this way before.

At this unique point in history, our resurrection experience in Jesus allows us to live in hope that life will be restored to us after the pandemic. Death and rebirth are not foreign ideas to those of us who follow Jesus. While it may feel like we experienced some kind of death over the past two years, our experience of resurrection in Jesus reminds us that God has been at work in it and we can expect rebirth. We can all look forward to experiencing what we will be when we are reborn after the little death of the pandemic.

This Easter Sunday will be for many of us our first Easter celebration in our church buildings since 2019. While plans are being made for joyous celebrations, we would like to extend a gentle reminder that COVID- 19 is still with us. We should continue to make reasonable decisions within our various contexts so that the most vulnerable among us are able to be included to the greatest degree possible. We wish to extend our sincere appreciation for the good work that is happening in the parishes of the Diocese of Calgary over the past two years, and particularly in these past few weeks as we have been returning to in-person worship.

On behalf of Archbishop Kerr-Wilson and the COVID-19 Task Force, I pray that you will experience the joy of the Resurrection this Easter, and in your lives as we look forward to a time when the pandemic is behind us.

Archdeacon Noel Wygiera, Chair Diocese of Calgary COVID-19 Task Force