It’s almost impossible to resist writing about spring. It’s spring! Maybe because I’m still a relative newcomer to the area, but the color, delicacy, freshness, variety and sheer joyfulness of nature at this time of year never cease to take my breath away.
It’s likewise timely to write about ‘rendering unto Ceasar’ which we all presumably did yesterday. Taxes! They too, in a very different way, can take one’s breath away. They’re part of sharing the privileges and burdens of our common life; a life with a common history as well.
So what is really taking my breath away this week is the remembrance of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination 150 years ago. The end of a life, a war…and the hopeful beginning of ‘a new birth of freedom’. Yesterday at the 12:15 Eucharist the Gettysburg Address was the first reading.
‘A new birth of freedom’ concludes that short speech. New birth – how beautiful, and yet how very painful. If Lincoln’s understanding of the Civil War was that the blood shed was in some way necessary to propitiate the blood shed in slavery, (as pointed out in the Rector’s sermon last Sunday), ‘new birth’ is a reminder also that freedom is literally a labor of love. Those daffodils might be looking so free in part because it took a lot of pushing to emerge from the bulb and the ground.
No one knows how the Resurrection ‘happened.’ But my guess is that it was not Jesus simply sitting up, stretching and giving a big yawn. My guess is that it involved labor, the labor of new birth. A moving from ‘no’ to ‘yes’ from paralysis to energy; from, and through, confusion to understanding.
150 years ago Grace Church also was born. As we approach the observance of our parish anniversary, I hope we can re-examine the Gospel’s understanding of ‘a new birth of freedom.’ ‘For freedom Christ has set us free…do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.’ (Galatians 5:1) There’s so much for us to learn.
Rev. Sarah Motley