A pastoral letter from the Rev. Blair Odney,
President, Pacific Mountain Regional Council
Dear Beloveds in the Pacific Mountain Regional Council,
I write this letter having finished preparing Good Friday’s service. Finding the right way to express the sentiments in the story can be challenging because we know the ending. We know that the betrayal and death of Good Friday is not God’s final answer. Every nuance and detail of the story is flavoured with the joy of knowing about Easter.
What if we didn’t know the outcome of the story? What if the betrayal seemed to be just that; a never-ending mess with no certainty of outcome? As I sit in my office, quietly reflecting on Monday’s announcement from Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry, I now know what it might have felt like in that first Holy Week. The vaccine, the hope in the face of a mounting scourge, lured us into believing the tables of injustice are about to be overturned. It felt a bit like the Palm Parade.
With news of more deaths, large numbers of new cases, and the Brazil variant baring down on us, it now feels like the great betrayal is never ending. And we have no idea how this story will end. We thought we could see it, and that gave us hope. Maybe even the same kind of hope those disciples first experienced. But now we have fresh restrictions to live within again. We’ve seen the likes of April 19 before, the date when things could be dialed back, only to be caught in a swell of new cases. We’ve seen this pattern all year.
Treena Duncan’s beautiful message on Monday was an invitation for us to remember who we are and whose we are. I agree with her; Holy Week is surely different this year.
My greatest hope in this time of betrayal is that you remember the stories of our faith. The stories in which God accompanied every human disappointment, every failed human expectation. The deeper we mark this Holy Week with the practices of our faith, the more we can count on that deep sense of God’s presence.
Take more time for prayer and meditation. Find a labyrinth, walk it with deep intention. Keep watching and witnessing the Spring that is emerging. Listen to music that grounds you in the joy of your humanity. Call your faith friends in your community; linger on the conversation a little longer than you might. Take more time with that email to your loved ones near and far. Dig into the scripture texts; pray them with intention. We remember in the stories, that this betrayal has happened before. Through each, God has never broken the covenant.
Easter’s promise is always the same, whether it happens in three seconds, three days, or in three lifetimes, we will not be orphaned; we will not be left alone. “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” Nothing will separate us from God’s love.
I hold you in my prayers this Easter.
Rev. S. Blair Odney
~ from an e-mail sent out March 31, 2021 and viewable here.