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Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

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Lectionary Reflection

Year C
Reflection on Easter
by the Rev Tom Harries

Easter Sunday 2001


  • By 1963, the pesticide DDT together with some shooting, had driven the total population of Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states down to about 400 breeding pairs.
  • In the whole state of Minnesota, the mid 70ís, there were fewer than 100 pairs.
  • When I was a child, there was always a pair of eagles nesting somewhere north of our lake cabin, in northwestern Wisconsin.
    • We loved to watch the young ones learning to fish.
    • One time we saw one dive to the water. But instead of flying away, it stayed down. Laboriously itís paddled toward the shore with its wings. We were really worried about it. Finally it reached the shoreÖand dragged a huge fish up on the beach.
  • But then one year we didnít see any young.
  • And for several years we didnít see any eagles at all on our lake.
  • Sailing story
    • Clouds lit from the bottom
    • Occasional puff of white on the top of a wave
    • No business at all being out by myself
    • Boat balance high on the edge.
    • Very alive
    • Look up just in time to see a Bald Eagle fold itís wings, plunge to the water, and fly away with fish.
    • They were back.
    • Today there are 6000 breeding pairs in the lower 48 states.
The resurrection is about rich new life springing forth where before there was death, despair, and hopelessness.
  • This past week we heard the story of Jesusí crucifixion:
    • His betrayal by Jesus in the Garden at Gethesemane
    • How the soldiers tortured him
    • His kangaroo trial before Herod
    • And finally his crucifixion and death upon the cross
    • These events led the disciples to complete despair
    • All they had hope for was lost, along with their dear friend and master, crushed by the Roman overseers
  • But when they went to the tomb to prepare the body for burial, it was not there! Instead, two men in dazzling clothes told them that he was not there. He was risen.
  • Over the next 40 days Jesus appeared to the eleven remaining disciples in the upper room,
    • to two of them on the road to Emmaus,
    • to the eleven again when Doubting Thomas was with them,
    • to seven at the sea of Tiberius, where he cooked a breakfast of fish and ate with them,
    • and to Peter, where he gets Peter to say three times that he loves him, thereby reversing Peterís three denials on Maundy Thursday,
    • Finally, they saw Jesus ascending into heaven
    • All of which, more than the empty tomb itself, convinced them that Jesus was indeed still alive, still with them in some mysterious way.
    We all learn to understand new things by comparing them to things we already know
  • Which is why, contrary to popular belief, adults learn most things faster than children. We have a bigger store of knowledge to compare to.
  • Anyway, itís no surprise that we should look to examples of new life that are within our understanding, in our attempt to appreciate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Balthazar pops out.
  • Good morning ladies and gentleman. Iím back. Not from the dead. Just from a long vacation. Dragons live forever, you know, and sometimes it gets tiring.
  • Anyway, I would like to talk to the children for a minute.
  • Here in my bag I have some items we see at Easter time
  • What do you think could be in this bag? Shout it out.
  • Bunnies
    • What happens if you put a boy bunny and a girl bunny in the same cage and leave them alone?
    • How many babies do you get?
    • Lots of babies, lots and lots and lots of babies
    • Bunnies are a great symbol for new and abundant life!
  • An egg (chocolate)
    • What would happen if I sat on this egg for a long time?
    • Nothing. Because itís chocolate.
    • But what happens when a bird sits on a real egg?
    • It hatches!
    • Eggs are another symbol of new life
  • Butterfly
    • What are butterflies before they are butterflies?
    • How many of you remember the story of the hungry caterpillar?
    • It eats and eats and eats until it gets really big, and then what?
    • It spins a cocoon
    • And what comes out of the cocoon?
    • A butterfly?
    • Butterflies make a wonderful symbol for new or changed life
  • Lily bulb
    • Anyone know what this is?
    • Does it look alive? No. It looks inert and dead.
    • But if we put this in dirt with water and fertilizer, do you know what would happen?
    • It would grow into a beautiful Easter Lilly like the ones decorating our church this morning.
  • Well kids, thanks so much for helping your parents understand what the heck Tom was talking about. I have to go now. See you soon.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is without parallel.
  • There is nothing exactly like it
  • If the returning eagles fill us with joy, how much more does the return of Jesus?
  • If bunnies and eggs are full of new, abundant life, how much more are we given new life in Christ?
  • If a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly, how much more we are transformed in Christ?
  • If a bulb seems dead, but grows into a beautiful lily, how much more beautiful Christ has become, in rising from the dead?
The resurrection is a mystery we cannot fully understand
  • But through it we are freed from bondage, fed with spiritual food in his body and blood, released from the fear of sin and death, given hope for our own resurrection, and filled with abundant new life.
  • Alleluia



Printable version


The Rev Tom Harries is the rector of St. Nicholas' Episcopal Church, Richfield, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection in 2001. Tom and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to Tom Harries or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.


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