Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Practising resurrection

As announced last week, I leave for Haiti tomorrow, along with a few other United Church representatives.

I’m grateful for many notes of encouragement, some of which have made connections between the journey of the Haitian people and the resurrection story of Easter.

The people of Haiti are certainly engaged in “practising resurrection,” as a Wendell Berry poem puts it, and it will be humbling, no doubt, to hear and see their stories of courage.

I confess to having had some hesitation about making this trip. Will it — can it — do anything to help the situation? Surely our partners in Haiti have more important things to do than worry about having North American church leaders underfoot.

Then yesterday, my pastor, the Rev. Barry Pridham, reminded me of how important it is for neighbours to visit at times of crisis. Barry was serving in Jamaica in 1988 when Hurricane Gilbert hit, one of the most intense storms ever to strike the Atlantic basin. He had no car to transport him and, in the immediate aftermath, no relief supplies to offer. But he walked the roads of his pastoral charge, visiting and offering what comfort he could. Twenty years later, it’s the personal presence people remember.

Our United Church has already done much to contribute to meeting the enormous needs for relief and restoration in Haiti. Our members have already donated over $2.7 million!

Now, for these few days at least, our group will also offer our personal presence. As Barry Pridham reminds me, “You can send all the stuff you want, but they also need you to be there and stand with them.”

Along the way we’ll learn about how Haitians are already rebuilding their lives with material support from us and others, and about what more is needed. We’ll bring back the stories.

One of the notes I received last week came from David McKane and included his Easter sermon, which also uses the title “Practising Resurrection.”  He does a wonderful job of revealing the ways in which people of faith practise resurrection.

Here’s a snippet:

“Practise resurrection! Life is not a dress rehearsal for the after-life. It is the realization that there are and will be places in our lives when we can bring about new life, where we can practice resurrection. This is often difficult for us to grasp because we think, indeed,  have been taught of resurrection in personal rather than in communal terms; that the resurrection is something that happens to our bodies after we die; that it is something that happened to Jesus but have difficulty in understanding how it might happen to us.

“To be sure that is one aspect of it but the church has always been more interested in the communal aspect of resurrection, in the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. We sometimes forget that we are an Easter people, a people called to practise resurrection now, not wait for it after we die.

“We practise resurrection whenever we offer our hearts and minds to the pain of the world and help bring those who are suffering back into the land of the living whether in Haiti or in Canada.

“We practise resurrection whenever we build bridges between the old and the new, the insider and the outsider, the estranged and the reconciled.

“We practise resurrection in our caring for the earth
“We practise resurrection when we welcome guests with graciousness
“We practise resurrection every time we laugh and sing and cherish life in the face of that which produces death.”

How are you practising resurrection this week?