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- by Gary Kenny

Before I embark on a circuit of the farm to clean out all the bird houses for the approaching nesting season, I offer this brief reflection on Easter. As some of you know, I recently returned from three weeks in East Jerusalem where I did some work with a Palestinian relief and development organization that supports Palestinian Muslim refugees in the West Bank. My experience among the Palestinians and time spent in the West Bank and the ancient walled "holy city" of Jerusalem has this year deepened the significance I attribute to Easter, which in the Christian calendar has always been for me a profound time.

This morning I attended a sunrise service at Holland Center United Church, a small church in a village that bears the distinction of being the epicenter of the Underground Railroad in this region; and so, historically, a place of welcome and liberation for Black slaves - refugees - having escaped slavery in the US. My spouse is a part-time minister in the congregation. I was struck by a banner which hung to the left of the chancel; a simple banner depicting in fabric a bright orange sun rising over a mountain and valley below. On the banner were two words, "Risen indeed."

There are at least two ways one could interpret those words. I choose to read them, "Risen in deed," because for me the miracle of the "resurrection" is the extent to which each of us is able to integrate into our lives the spirit and example of the Jesus we read about in the Gospels. In other words, the degree to which we're able to name and stand up to "empire" in all its many manifestations, whether totalitarianism in a national context, Western mining companies that wantonly despoil natural environments in developing countries, governments that continue to discriminate against Indigenous peoples, or a bully in the workplace or schoolyard - there are myriad examples of empire in action at all levels of society.

Confronting empire always means risking oneself - risking a personal relationship, one's reputation, financial security, even death in some extreme situations (as with many young Palestinian males who under Israeli occupation see no future for themselves and are frustrated and angry to the point of resorting to life-endangering street protests). That the Jesus of the Gospels (and I think likely other figures in history) have exemplified the courage and risked their lives to face evil in all its forms, so that others too might feel called to take up that same strength into ourselves, is the real miracle of Easter, in my view. Jesus "resurrection" is found, made real, given body and life precisely in our deeds (Risen "in deed") insofar as we are prepared to love (and sometimes stand up to) our neighbour as we would have our neighbour love us.

And love can, or course, bring release and liberation but sometimes at a heavy price.


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