Meredith Harber pastors at Christ Lutheran on Easter morning, Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Debbie Delker/courtesy)

Meredith Harber pastors at Christ Lutheran on Easter morning, Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Debbie Delker/courtesy)

Minister’s Message: Finding a common thread among celebrations

This year brought an amazing opportunity for folks around the world to experience the stories, traditions and messages of what their spirituality or religion has taught them

As a Christian, I am still celebrating the Easter season. This is the time when we remember that Jesus Christ died and somehow, despite all ration and logic, resurrected from the dead, which brings promises of new life triumphing over death.

I always remind folks that Easter isn’t a day, but a season or even a mindset. Robert E. Webber said that “Every Sunday is a ‘little Easter’.” This means that as Christians, we are to remember this Resurrection message repeatedly, anytime we gather.

This year brought an amazing opportunity for folks around the world to experience the stories, traditions and messages of what their spirituality or religion has taught them. We got to do it at the same time! Within just a few days, five major holidays and celebrations from different religions were and are being celebrated simultaneously.

In addition to Christians celebrating Easter, we have Purim (Jewish), Ramadan (Muslim), Nowruz (Persian), and Holi (Hindu). These are specific days or seasons within each of these practices, while there are ongoing seasons and practices in other spiritual and religious homes.

On top of this, March 31 is the International Trans Day of Visibility, which meant that it overlapped with the Christian practice of Easter this year.

How can we allow these things to distract from MY holiday?

It’s not only what we “allow” to take place, but what the focus of our practice is. For me, as a Christian, I remember that the empty tomb on Easter morning should be the ongoing reminder that Jesus, God, the Divine, the Holy One, cannot be contained to a rock-hewn grave, so my human calendar certainly cannot restrict God’s love for the world.

Sometimes, it can feel overwhelming to experience our specific traditions around holidays — hosting family, finding special outfits, and cooking recipes you only use once a year. And on the flip side, it can mean loneliness because you don’t have that relationship with your family, a disconnect from your culture or traditions, and just one more day eating dinner at your coffee table.

These big celebrations have the potential to draw us into a larger community or make us feel pushed farther away. We hear of others celebrating and can feel jealous, unsettled, or even undermined, if their faith or beliefs differ from ours.

Rather than make it a competition or feel like other experiences have power to take away from your own experience, I invite you to focus on the common thread of all these celebrations — to love and to be loved.

This may be through family who you share DNA with or family that you do not. It may be through Easter dresses or waiting to break the fast. It may be through showing up somewhere to hear the stories of your faith or it may be finding the quiet within you at your home.

If we can all focus on love for community — our community — it will make the world a more loving and compassionate place for all of us. And I bet we could all use a bit more love and compassion these days.

The Rev. Meredith Harber serves as pastor to Christ Lutheran Church at 128 N. Soldotna Ave. Worship is at 10 a.m. in person or on Facebook Live.

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