Thursday, April 26, 2012

Easter is truly a Season of Love

By Steve Valenzuela
Director, Small Faith Communities

Late last month I attended the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress held at the Anaheim Convention Center. After attending this annual event for over 30 years, I still find this Catholic gathering amazing. This year there were over 40,000 people, 16,000 for the Youth Day on Thursday and over 24,000 people of various languages, cultures and ministries participating in three conference days following. We all spent this “triduum” learning, praying, browsing and celebrating our shared faith with friends, colleagues and fellow parish ministers. We were told at the opening ritual that people from nearly every state in the union and many countries from around the world were in attendance including Australia, Pakistan, the Philippines, England, Korea and several nations in Africa. On Saturday night I joined some of my small faith community friends for two evening programs designed for both reflection and entertainment. 

The second program was a concert of Broadway show tunes performed by a wonderful ensemble of church musicians and singers. One of the last numbers staged was the popular song “Seasons of Love” from the 90s hit musical RENT.  For the un-initiated, RENT tells the story of a year in the life of a group (three couples really) of young adult friends who face life together in the artist colony of New York City’s lower Manhattan. As a group they deal with some of  humanity’s most profound experiences including finding and losing love, accepting the death of a friend from AIDS, seeking meaningful work, figuring out one’s sexuality and of course the need for money just to pay the “rent” as the opening title number showcased.

The refrain of the song “Seasons of Love” centers around the number of minutes that are in a year of time, reflecting on the everyday activities and experiences that can happen during those days, weeks and months, and what they say about the people who lived them. This song got me thinking about how I have spent the last 525,600 minutes (a year of minutes) as a church worker, a friend and just as a human being. Each minute of our lives, the song implies could be filled with encounters and events that shape the kind of persons we become.  I wondered, “How have I lived this year of minutes?”  Have I loved and cared and learned and grown?  Have I reached out to those nearby and far away? Having just completed Lent and now in the “Easter Season” I thought “what a great description of the Eastertime” as the season of love. Our sacrificial practices and observances of the previous 40 days now give way to 50 days of the new life. In short, we were shaped by the season of sacrifice so we could now live in the season of love.  Isn’t this how the whole journey of faith is supposed to be?

Easter is truly a “season of love.”  Each minute, hour and day we are alive is truly a gift of love from our God who not only resurrected Jesus his Son but calls us forth, too,  from the tombs of broken lives.  Easter is the season of love because that is what it means to be a follower of the Risen One. It means to love the other, both God and humanity, fully and not just  in the abstract but truly minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day. Gee, that reminds me of another good song from another Broadway show … perhaps for another reflection. 

Happy Season of Love, Happy Easter!

For Reflection and Sharing…
What season in life are you in right now?  How can Easter be a special season or time for you to love others as God has loved you?

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