Three Wishes for Easter: Peace, Joy, and Surprise!

by Melannie Svoboda SND on March 30, 2013

This Easter I wish all of you (and myself!) these three Easter gifts: peace, joy, and surprise. I wish not only that we might receive these gifts personally, but also that we might bestow these gifts on others.

I wish you peace. The first words Jesus says to his frightened disciples after the resurrection are these: “Peace be with you.” Peace then is the first gift of the IMG_0432Resurrection. But peace is not the absence of war or conflict. It is not even the absence of noise or confusion. Rather peace is the deep sense that, beneath everything, God’s grace moves. Just below the surface of reality, God’s Holy Spirit is making all things new. I wish all of us a re-conviction of this basic belief expressed so beautifully in Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”

And I wish that we would bestow this gift of peace on the people we live with, work with, pray with, and meet on the street or in the store. How might we do this? By greeting others warmly, by being polite and kind, by slowing down, by refraining from hurtful gossip, by saying, “I’m sorry” when we offend, by extending forgiveness when we have been offended, and by entrusting all our worries and fears to the Risen Jesus.

I wish you joy. I often quote G. K. Chesterton’s beautiful words: “As Christians, joy is the underlying pulsation of our life.” This does not mean we don’t cry or experience deep pain. But it means, as the Easter story tells us, our tears and pain can be transformative. They can be redemptive.  They can lead us to new life. The Easter story reminds us that God has IMG_1092the “last laugh.” By raising Jesus from the dead, God shows that, in the end, life conquers death, joy triumphs over sorrow, and goodness overcomes evil. We can spread this Easter joy in many simple ways: by recalling what’s right with our life and our world, by smiling more, by humming or singing more, by cultivating a sense of humor. As someone once said, “The opposite of joy is not sorrow. It is unbelief.”

I wish you surprise. In their accounts of the resurrection, all four evangelists make this point: Jesus’ Resurrection was a huge surprise for his followers. The women at the tomb, his apostles, Mary Magdalene, and the disciples on the road to Emmaus were all surprised and shocked when they encountered the Risen Jesus. None of them was expecting this! The word “surprise,” then, is truly an Easter word. It reminds us that we believe in a God of surprises. What does that mean? It Tulipsmeans we must not be so wedded to our own plans and expectations, that we miss recognizing the surprises God has in store for us. When our plans come to naught, rather than grieving or pouting, we must trust that God might be ready to surprise us in a way we never expected.

Let us celebrate this Easter by surprising ourselves and others. We can surprise ourselves by doing something we don’t ordinarily do or have never done. If we have never eaten a certain food, we can eat it. Or we could attend a talk or class on something we know little about—whether it’s 19th Century French painting or “everything you wanted to know about mushrooms but were afraid to ask.” What is the point of surprising ourselves during Easter? It is one way we get out of our rut or our “tomb,” that is, our usual way of doing things. It is a way of instilling new vitality into our lives—which is a very Easter thing to do.

We can celebrate Easter by surprising others too—by doing small favors around the home or workplace, by leaving a generous tip, by calling someone we haven’t spoken to for a while, by treating someone to lunch, or by sending cards to family or friends for no particular reason.

Someone has said, “The simplest meaning of Easter is that we are living in a world in which God has the last word.” And maybe that “last word” is something like this: “Be at PEACE for I bring you great JOY. Jesus lives–and you will too–forever! SURPRISE!”

Chrysanthemum

 Happy Easter!

(NOTE: My next post will be Monday, April 8, 2013.)

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Bridget Holy March 30, 2013 at 9:30 am

Thank You….
B

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Pat March 30, 2013 at 9:45 am

What a beautiful Easter Blessing. Thank you!
Because your posting came on Holy Saturday, I was reading it to my husband. He asked your name and after telling him he mentioned a Professional baseball player , Ron Svoboda. Is he related to you?
Blessed Easter to you and your community. I can’t wait to see what surprises are in store for our family

Pat

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Nancy Meyers SND Assoc. March 30, 2013 at 9:38 am

Thank you Sister Melanie for that beautiful and inspirational Easter Message. I have shared it either e-mail, snail mail and facebook with my friends and relatives. Have a Wonderful Easter Nancy Meyers SND Assoc.

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S. Pat Newhouse, SC March 30, 2013 at 10:07 am

Wow! What a wonderful surprise to get you Sunflower Seeds on Holy
Saturday. You truly are a blessing to all of us. May your Easter be filled
with many blessings of PEACE, JOY and SURPRISES. God bless you!

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Mary Schneider March 30, 2013 at 10:11 am

Resurrect sit sicudixit!! ALLELUIA.

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Theresa A. Mullins March 30, 2013 at 10:53 am

I wish you Peace, Joy, and Surprise as well. I am filled with much Peace, Joy, and maybe even surprise today. Tonight at the Easter Virgil I will witness my mother and step-father being welcomed into the Church. It is a surprise if you think about it, because I grew up in a Pentecostal family that believed that it was bad to be Catholic and I had to keep my desire to be Catholic hidden while Catholics were talked about badly. Who would have thought my mother would follow me into the Catholic faith? If someone told us 20 years ago she would become Catholic on this night we would have said they were nuts. Praise the Lord for his moving grace.

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Mary Beth March 30, 2013 at 10:58 am

Thank you for your beautiful, inspiring reflection! Of late, I have been following (or trying to follow) a similar path:healing leads to hope which leads to peace and then hopefully leads to joy. Easter blessings to you!!

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Larry March 30, 2013 at 11:48 am

Thank you Melannie for the wonderful words and beautiful flowers. Daisies are a special sign from God for my wife and I of the joy God wishes for us always.

Easter blessings on you, your family and community of sisters.

Larry

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marian March 30, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Dear Sr. Melanie
What a blessed witness to the love of God you are!
I thank God for you! Your messages are spiritual food that touch and transform lives and bring peace. That’s no small thing!
Happy Easter!
Marian

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Anita March 30, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Hi Sister Melannie
Another wonderful message! I’ve thought about it on and off all day. I think if our priests gave similar inspirational homilies folks would flock to our churches! No disrespect intended but nobody would be daydreaming during a talk such as yours. Happy Easter!

Nita

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Julie Teder March 30, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Melannie,
May God fill your heart with all three gifts. This is the most beautiful and meaningful of your writings. It is a gift to savor and reread and I needed to read it. Thank You.

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Patti April 1, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Thanks for the beautiful thoughts. I especially liked the part about not grieving or pouting over not getting what I want, and waiting for God’s surprise instead. He never fails to deliver.

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Martha April 3, 2013 at 12:33 am

Sr. Melannie,
This is so beautiful I am going to share it with all the neophytes! And team, and office staff!!! Happy Easter!

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Karleena April 3, 2013 at 12:47 am

Thank you for speaking so gently to my heart. I needed this light for my path. God Bless You…. Big as the Sky!

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Cindy April 7, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Sr. Melannie,
I just happened to pick up a Living Faith book at church this morning. I looked under April 7th and your reflection was posted; Receiving God’s Breath of Life. It had your website address printed so here I am. Thank you for surprising me with such beautiful words!
Cindy

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Benjamin April 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Thank you for the Easter message, Sr. Melannie. I am a graduate of NDCL High-school and I was always impressed with the sisters there who taught and wrote; your message is no less important or vital. I also wish you a Happy Easter season.

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mary April 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm

thank you for such wonderful thoughts and inspirations.

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Melannie Svoboda SND April 8, 2013 at 8:20 pm

And thank you, Mary, for your positive remarks! Sr. Melannie

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