An Easter Message from the Rector
Dear Members and Friends of St. Paul’s Church in Troy:
The Sunday before last was the end of February and on that day a member of the parish (Helen Perkins) met me on the front steps of the church with the exciting news that she had just seen a robin that morning. The sun was out then and there was an unmistakable feeling of warmth to the sun’s rays. Both Helen and I were encouraged by these harbingers of spring. I for one am looking forward to getting my rowing shell back on the Hudson River!
For some reason the coming of spring always takes me by surprise. It’s not as if I really think it will stay cold and dark forever, but still, the way winter hangs around – and suddenly one day – it feels different, and I heave a great sigh of gratitude knowing that the days are really getting longer, and spring IS just around the corner. Pardon the cliché.
In our parish, as in other Christian churches, we look forward to celebrating the greatest Holy Day of them all – Easter – coming this year on April 4th. Since Easter Sunday is a spring event there is a natural tendency to associate Easter with spring flowers, and more generally with nature and fertility. This correlation between Easter and “mother nature” certainly has been helped along by the fact that the pagan cultures that preceded, and later co-existed, with Christianity had their own spring festivals celebrating nature and the “cycle of life.” In fact, the word “Easter” itself has its roots in a pagan god of fertility.
I readily confess to be annoyed that our principal Christian feast is named after a pagan fertility goddess, but I suppose it is far too late for me to ask everybody to stop calling it Easter! I guess we’re stuck with it. It may be true also, that a word like “Easter” can still carry the proper meaning even if the origin of the word is tied up in something else.
In most parts of the world the Christian Holy Day of Easter is actually called “Pascha,” derived from “Passover,” which originated in the annual memorial of the deliverance of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The name Pascha is preferred because Jesus transformed the meaning of the Hebrew Passover by passing over, in his own body, from death to life.
The basic Christian story, in the words of ethicist Stanley Hauerwas, starts like this: “[W]e are creatures of a good God who has [grafted us on] to the people of Israel through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.” * Here is where the Easter metaphor of living things really takes root. Instead of putting our faith in the temporary mood lift that comes with spring flowers, eggs, and multiplying bunnies – we find our eternal happiness tied up in the actual story of God. No matter how dark and oppressive it became for Israel, God was with them and did lead them into the Promised Land. My story and your story is also the story of the people of Israel. The story of Israel is also the story of Jesus. And the story of Jesus is actually the story of God the Creator, who does not stand far off from the world looking on with disdain for its imperfection, but actively, through Jesus Christ, continues to create the conditions for the world’s redemption.
May you find in the signs of spring – in the grass, trees, flowers, and birds – an affirmation that God is near, and Jesus is Lord.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
The Rev. Michael I. Gorchov, Rector
- Palm Sunday, March 28, We will begin the 10 am service in the Guild House. The Liturgy of the Palms is immediately followed by a palm procession to the church as we commemorate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem where the events of Holy Week enfold through the reading of the Passion. March 28th is also the deadline to return the envelopes and offerings for Easter Flower/Music Memorials.
- Maundy Thursday, April 1st, Choral Holy Eucharist and stripping of the altar at 6 o’clock…
- Good Friday, April 2, A special choral Worship service will be held at 1pm.
- Holy Saturday, April 3rd, We will meet at Bruegger’s at 8:30 am for coffee and then go to the church for dusting, polishing and decorating. All volunteers are welcome.
- Easter Sunday, April 4th,
- 5:00am – The Great Vigil;
- 7:00am – Light Breakfast and Refreshments.
- 8:00am – Holy Eucharist
- 10:00 AM – Festal Choral Eucharist.
- 5:00am – The Great Vigil;
- The Annual Meeting and Election of a Warden and Vestry members will take place on Sunday, April 18.
The date for our annual Book Sale has been set for June 4 (setup & preview sale) and June 5 for the public sale. Receptacles for used reading materials will be in the Church and Guild House. We will welcome fiction, non-fiction, craft and cookbooks, children’s books, CD, VHS, DVD and Audio Books. No text books, periodicals or encyclopedias, please.