‘But how could we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land?’
For the several days that I was trying to write this Easter blog, a verse from Psalm 137 was about all that came to my mind. I was holding “How could we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land?” in one hand and the words, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” in the other.
Try as I might, I could not get the psalm verse out of my mind, nor feel any kind of gladness.
Of course, what prompted my thoughts were Ukraine and the nightly TV images of the suffering people upon whom unspeakable horrors have been unleashed day after day by Putin and his Russian military.
How can we sing “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” this Easter? This Easter, in the midst of people fleeing the land of their birth, children in tow, or whole terrorized families huddled in make-shift bomb shelters. This Easter, with destruction all around — bodies lying dead in the streets; we hear reports of women being raped and of families struggling to find food, and shelter from the cold. This Easter, as homes, schools, train stations, hospitals have been indiscriminately reduced to rubble. Alleluia? The word stuck in my throat.
How can we NOT sing?
Finally, I turned a corner in my thinking and began to ask myself … How can we NOT sing our Easter Alleluias?! Even in the midst of all this suffering. Indeed, we must sing because of all this suffering! That is what the paschal mystery is all about! The resurrection of Jesus is the rock-solid base of our faith, our love, our hope and our trust. The resurrection of Jesus proclaims that suffering and death will not have the last word.
As we ponder this Easter, we might consider the words of Mister Rogers, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Might these helpers be the “resurrection” people of today? For example, the gentleman who goes all over the world in crisis situations, and now is in Ukraine, to cook and dispense food to the hungry. Many organizations are on the ground in Ukraine every day to direct resources to the most needy, including medical supplies, safe drinking water, and psycho-social care for traumatized children. We hear of response workers flocking to Poland to help with the refugee population.
There is Easter joy; we may just have to look harder, this Easter.