Paradox is at the heart of our Christian faith. As we continue celebrating Easter, we remember the most profound paradox in Christianity — that death leads to new life.
This past week, I travelled to New York City to see long time choir member, Nicholas Gordon confirmed at St. John’s Episcopal Church. On Sunday, we saw Mother Kara become the Canon Theologian for the Diocese of New Jersey. It was a wonderful time of celebration in our community!
Even as we celebrated these accomplishments, I found out that Rachel Held Evans died at 37 years old. Rachel was a prominent author who spoke about her evangelical upbringing and finding a home in the Episcopal Church. Her death, especially at such a young age, was shocking. She once wrote, “Imagine if every church became a place where everyone is safe, but no one is comfortable. Imagine if every church became a place where we told one another the truth. We might just create sanctuary”.
Earlier his morning, I read about the passing of another great hero in the church — Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche passed away at the age of 90. Vanier served in the Royal Navy in Canada and upon discharge, he felt called “to do more”. He went to help a priest in France, who worked with people who have developmental disabilities. Vanier was shocked how people were thrown away and treated as garbage. He created L’Arche — where people who have developmental disabilities can live with others in a true family like setting. Amidst this model, incredible healing has occurred, all around. Vanier wrote in his book Community and Growth, “I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.” Talk about paradox! As I said before, Christianity is full of paradox.
Krista Tippet, of On Being, interviewed Jean Vanier a number of years ago at an Episcopal retreat center in rural Maryland. As we seek to make sense of the Easter paradox, of Rachel’s death, and Jean Vanier’s passing… I pray Vanier’s words will heal you as they’ve healed me.
Br. Christopher McNabb, OSF