What Hymn will you most miss singing in church this Easter?

By on April 1, 2021

Last year at the beginning of March, writing my column for the Easter issue of the HighWay, I invited you to participate as fully as possible in the physical pageantry of Holy Week and Easter, to wave palms in the parish parade, wash feet at the Maundy Thursday remembrance of Jesus’s command to love one another, sing out your joy Easter morning.   Looking back, of course, this invitation is ironic; I was completely unaware that within a week of writing we would be directed to close in-person worship entirely.  We scrambled to find ways to celebrate Easter electronically, and we lamented the loss the treasured rituals that we mark together in community.   A year later we face another Easter without being able to gather and sing out our joyful news of resurrection.

Some of us have suffered significant losses, others simply the inconvenience of restrictions on our movements.  All of us have watched the agony around the globe, and the mental health toll on everyone.   Every grief is further complicated.  Yet, through this pandemic, we have learned much about the God of Resurrection, the God who works continually to bring new life out of death.  The Easter Hymn that speaks most to me in the midst of suffering is Now the Green Blade Rises.  “When our hearts are wintry, grieving and in pain, your touch can call us back to life again”.

Without taking lightly or minimizing the cost of the pandemic for individuals and for society, as well as to our church communities, I think it is worth pondering what we have learned about God’s resurrection presence with us through the pandemic.   How do we see those new blades of green that spring up in the cracks?   Have we learned some new strength within us?  Have our friendships or other relationships deepened because we have weathered this together?  Have our life priorities shifted?  In the disciplines and restrictions, the things we’ve had to go without, has our trust in God been broadened?

I wonder if we can see the God of Resurrection at work in the Church. Before the pandemic many people feared the church is dying. Yes some old models that no longer work have to die.  I think some structures need to change and in some cases have had change thrust upon them. The uncertainty is difficult to endure.  But I think the pandemic has given us a spiritual wakening to our ability to adapt.  We have been startled into new awareness of our need for community, that “gathering” as the Body of Christ is essential.   We have experienced what we were taught in Sunday School, that the Church is the People.   One church sign during the pandemic reads “The Church has left the building”.

Many parishes have said their bible studies and other educational events, even coffee hours, have more in-depth conversation.   Missing the Eucharist, we have rediscovered the sacramental nature of the word, that the presence of Jesus we know in the bread and wine is also known in Scripture.  Jesus, Word of God, is in our midst when we study together.

Two contemporary scholars of John’s Gospel, Mary L. Coloe, in her book “Dwelling in the Household of God,” and Sandra Schneiders, “Jesus Risen in our Midst,” carefully trace the movement in John’s Gospel from God dwelling in the Temple, to God dwelling in Jesus the Word, and then, after the Resurrection, God dwelling in the midst of the gathered disciples, the post-resurrection “Beloved Community.”  Perhaps John would have put up a sign:  God has left the building.  The profound world-changing effect of the Resurrection is that God dwells in us!   May this Easter season be a time of discovering anew this Good News, which is true however it is we are able to gather!

Yours in Christ,



Now the Green Blade Rises

#237 in Common Praise

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat arising green.

In the grave they laid him, Love by hatred slain,
Thinking that he’d never wake again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat arising green.

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain;
Raised from the dead my living Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat arising green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain,
Your touch can call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat arising green.

John M.C. Crum  (alt)


  • Lynne McNaughton

    Most Reverend Dr. Lynne McNaughton is the tenth Bishop of Kootenay, and is the 13th Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia and Yukon.

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