Easter Blog by Rev. Sharon Stalkfleet

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Trust Broken Reborn as Hope

I have a lot of disappointments these days. I try to make sense of the experience of COVID, as I long for public acknowledgment of this deep loss, yet once again we are moving on, just “getting over it.” COVID is not the only thing we need to mourn. Climate change is taking a toll. I live in Northern California with its devastating fires, where fear rises in me whenever I hear the sound of a fire engine heading up the Berkeley Hills. An attempted coup in our nation’s capital has yet to be adjudicated. Our transgender youth are being targeted again and again, and I am angry at hateful rhetoric and actions towards diverse groups of people as I listen to the effect it has on my Asian American and immigrant friends. I am ashamed to live in a reality where people with brown and black bodies are treated badly, especially young black men harmed and threatened every day by police officers. I am furious at the increased protections for guns by the United States Supreme Court that diminishes the safety of children and youth in schools, abused women in their homes, and supports tools for mass shootings. 

I have seen a lot of change in my lifetime towards equality and less discrimination, including the 2009 ELCA decision towards full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people, the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements and the brave actions of my transgender friends. I envisioned that we would be in a better place. However, resistance towards full inclusion of all people persists and seems to be rising. I am disappointed and angry. As I write this, I am taking account of the times we are living in and questioning how we will move on. 

I wonder what it must have been like for the people of all genders, sexual orientations, abilities, colors, ages, classes, Jew and Gentiles, all diversities who followed Jesus as they saw public opinion sway and eventually turn against him while the powers and the principalities nailed him to the cross and killed him. Was their trust in Christ broken as they mourned?

John Kirvan, author and Paulist priest, reflected on Evelyn Underhill’s words about resurrection in the book “God Hunger.” Kirvan writes, “trust broken must be reborn into hope.” Lessons of distrust have been pounded into us all our lives and are transformed into hope. Our Easter story transforms broken trust into hope with Jesus’ resurrection.  Healing breaks through and we too are raised to a new life. Jesus Christ is risen, risen indeed! 

St. Paul writes, in Romans 5: 1-5 

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (NRSV)

Evelyn Underhill, who knew suffering, writes, “I expect resurrection!” We, in the Proclaim community know resurrection. We have certainly experienced the loss of trust being reborn as hope! In whatever words we use for our gender and our sexual orientation, including our straight allies who read this, together we have moved beyond messages that tell us to distrust our deepest longings and our deepest understandings about who we are and how we are to live out our lives. We have the gift of being gathered together in community in common pain and common hope that has birthed a new life of fully living who we are with endurance and character resulting in love and inclusion. 

Trust broken being reborn as hope, is an ongoing process. It is our Good Friday to Easter experience from which we can trust and hope again and again! This Easter, receive the energy of new life unfolding, let us be revived and rise again.

Resurrecting One, ground our trust and hope in you. Renew our energy, revive us, keep us moving forward from our common pain and in our common hope for a reality that reflects your vision of inclusion and the love of all creation. Instill your resurrection in us and summon the light of Christ to shine upon us, hold us and shine from within us for the world to see. Amen.
Sharon Stalkfleet (she/her) is the 7th Extraordinarily Ordained Lutheran Pastor by 4 ELCA congregations in Oakland and Alameda, CA in 2002. She has served as an outreach pastor to a large nursing home ministry, as a hospice chaplain, and as an intentional interim pastor. Sharon is working on a Doctorate of Ministry focused on Children’s Theology at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. She currently lives as a single person in Berkeley and enjoys walking up into the Berkeley Hills to watch the sunset.

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