When Easter is a verb

IMAGE: First-century rolling stone tomb below the Convent of the Sisters of Nazareth, Nazareth. Photo by Gregory C. Jenks.

Easter Day
St Andrew’s Church, Lismore
9 April 2023

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What if Easter is a verb?

I had been planning to shape today’s sermon around the idea of God saying YES to Jesus, as a kind of sequel to Friday’s sermon in which I reflected on Jesus saying YES to God.

But instead I want to explore the idea that “easter” might be a verb.

I was alerted to this idea, found in the poem “The Wreck of the Deutschland” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, by a Facebook post from Bishop Jeremy Greaves in Brisbane. That poem was composed as a homage to 5 Franciscan nuns who drowned when The Deutschland ran ashore on a sandbar on 7 December 1875. They had been expelled from the German Empire as part of the ongoing conflict between the Kaiser and the Pope.

Towards the end of his lengthy poem, Hopkins put these words on the lips of the drowning nuns:

Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east,
More brightening her, rare-dear Britain, as his reign rolls,
Pride, rose, prince, hero of us, high-priest,
Our hearts’ charity’s hearth’s fire, our thoughts’ chivalry’s throng’s Lord.

Gerad Manley Hopkins, The Wreck of the Deutshchland

Let him easter in us …

We are familiar with “easter” being used as an adjective, but what if we play with the idea of it being a verb?

And—if so—is “easter” the verb for when God says, “Yes;” to Jesus—and to us.

Like the nuns drowning in a stricken vessel off the SE coast of England, Jesus needed to be eastered.

And he was.

There is much more eastering needed than the raising of Jesus:

Our beautiful blue planet circling around the sun, needs to be eastered.

The indigenous people of Palestine, yearn to be eastered.

The state of Israel needs to be eastered.

The people of Ukraine are desperate to be eastered.

The Indigenous people of this ancient land yearn to be eastered.

The city of Lismore and our neighbouring villages hope to be eastered.

The whole Northern Rivers region looks to be eastered.

Our families yearn to be eastered.

Those living with chronic illness look to be eastered.

Those lingering at the end of their lives yearn to be eastered.

The diverse Christian community across our nation, needs to be eastered.

The Anglican Church of Australia is in profound need of eastering.

Our parish here needs to be eastered.

I need to be eastered.

Perhaps you also need to be eastered?

Eastering is the power of God seen in the powerful wind that hovered over the primal sea in Genesis.

Eastering is the story of a slave community finding its identity and its freedom as they walk into the waters of the Red Sea.

Eastering is the sound of dry bones—scattered across a battlefield—returning to life as the Spirit of YHWH moves gently but powerfully among them.

Eastering begins when a young girl from Nazareth says yes to God.

Eastering transforms the dead Jesus into the risen Lord.

Eastering happens when Mary meets her beloved in the garden.

Eastering can be seeen when the Stranger breaks the bread in a house at Emmaus.

Eastering occurs when the Risen Lord joins the frightened disciples behind their locked doors.

Eastering continues when Paul encounters Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Eastering is our experience when we say, “Yes” to God 

Eastering occurs when we claim our place at the Table of Jesus.

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