Monday, April 2, 2012

Signs of New Life

What a great season is Holy Week! It oozes new life. And the earth is cooperating more than usual in our part of the world. Bulbs starting to sprout. Birds back early. Leaves poised to pop.

Finding myself more alert to all things 'peace.' Easter has that written all over it - violence has not been removed but it has been defeated - by the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. This, not Christmas, is the high point of the Christian year. Everything we believe comes down to what this week stands for. Not to believe this is to stand at the precipice of despair just getting out of bed in the morning.

Look for good news around us. Like new growth in nature, it speaks of hope, it speaks of the impulse we all have, to do good. To reflect God's goodness designed into each one of us.

Did you see the stories about Shelagh Gordon in the Toronto Star? It started with a piece by Catherine Porter and a team of Star reporters (, and it inspired a whole lot of letters and reflections. Shelagh was one of those good persons you meet or hear about every now and then, and who inspires you to do better. Read her story yourself for the background, but here is a small snippet from Catherine Porter:

If she noticed your boots had holes, she’d press her new ones into your arms. When you casually admired her coffeemaker, you’d wake up to one of your own. A bag of chocolates hanging from your doorknob would greet you each Valentine’s Day, along with some clippings from the newspaper she thought you’d find interesting.

A week later, Ms. Porter wrote a follow-up in the Star, and this was included:

I wrote about Shelagh last Saturday with a team of 20 Star journalists. We were overwhelmed by the response. The story was shared more than 7,000 times on Facebook and trended on Twitter for part of the weekend. My email address was not included with the story, but more than 150 of you sought me out to say how moved you were. Most of you vowed that Shelagh’s story would change you.

Hopefully we do know people like Shelagh. Doesn't her story make the world a good place to be? Doesn't it help to redeem the bad news?

I saved an article by Rabbi Dow Marmur also from the Star, a little earlier on January 9, 2012. The title was 'Becoming good while doing good.' He was writing about a Catholic theologian, Sr. Mary Jo Leddy, familiar to many of us from the 70's and later. She was honoured by the Jewish community recently, for her "commitment to what Jews call tikkun olam, mending the world." Mary Jo had written in a book, "My faith was strengthened by those whose faith was different from mine." Rabbi Marmur comments: "We of other faiths sit at her feet in humility and admiration."

The goodness of God. The Good News of Jesus, as we Christians know it. Inclusive, not exclusive. Respectful, not disparaging. Able to see God where God's light is shining, and no matter through whom it is shining. Mary Jo again: "it is possible that we become good in the process of doing good."

For those of us whose view of the world is informed by the Good News of Jesus, whose hope for redemption is guaranteed by the death and resurrection of Jesus, all of these are signs of new life. Signs of spring. Signs of Easter.

They are also calls to be part of it. The message and the triumph of Easter, the power of God's goodness, do not zap us, they invite us. Pick it up, go with it. Like Shelagh, like Rabbi Marmur, like Mary Jo. Becoming good while doing good. I like it.

Chag Pesach Sameach - Happy Passover

Happy Easter