I’ve been working ahead but on Maundy Thursday this Easter Reflection by Levi Oracion of the Philippines remembering and telling the story of the Easter that was the most meaningful to him in his life seems appropriate.
Carried by Wings of Grace: Ecumenical Easter Service in the Philippines
I participated in what was an Ecumenical Easter Sunrise Service in the greater Manila area right beside one of the big military camps—either Bonifacio or Aguinaldo. It was the height of martial law and I decided the Word I had to deliver should speak of the hope, the courage and the power that the resurrection gives to believers in any situation, but especially in days of darkness and despair. So, when I mounted the pulpit to preach I compared the situation into which the disciples were thrown by the crucifixion of Jesus to the hopelessness martial law had brought upon the Filipino people. However, the deeper truth was that the faith given to us by the crucified and risen Lord empowered his followers to see through the deceit and hypocrisy of the present regime, resist its inhuman policies and actions, and be open to the indwelling of the God’s Spirit that alone could deliver them from the inhuman regime. About ten minutes into my sermon, we heard a rumbling sound that shook the earth. Six or seven tanks surrounded our gathering, training their machine guns at the gathered assembly. One was directly pointed at me! I am not a brave man, but strangely fear did not take hold of me, and I felt I was not myself anymore. Carried by a power far greater than I, I continued to speak. Death had become an entrance to a far more glorious reality, and I thought I was about to enter it—death was no longer an enemy, it became a friend! I think my mind was caught up in the logic of martyrdom and my spirit was caught up in the movement of God’s Spirit itself. I no longer remember what I said at that point; it could be that I spoke the truth in love and the tank commander heard it and ordered his group back to the camp. The power of the resurrection came down upon us. It was one of the most meaningful and powerful Easter services I ever experienced.
Easter Benediction by Jan Chamberlin of Aotearoa
Risen Lord Jesus, give us your blessing:
Help us to bring peace in our world’s strife.
Death has been conquered – you are the victor!
Come and transform us – give us new life.
Could be sung to tune: Bunessan