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The Rev. Meredith Holt Crigler | Trinity Episcopal Church, Baytown

A Selection of Sermons:


Apr 4, 2021

My hope and my prayer for us all this Easter-tide and beyond is that through the presence and power of our Risen Christ we might unfurl. 

One of the many gifts of having worshiped outside together for so long is bearing witness, being mindful, and intentionally watching these ferns which have framed our outdoor chancel. They usually thrive here at Trinity. And while I have witnessed periods of pruning before, never like what occurred this ‘unprecedented’ year. This year, they were hacked off at their base, and I thought they were dead. They were that last piece of straw on my camel-like back. And so, a bit distraught I called our faithful Jr. Warden Fernando about the ferns. Our landscaping company more or less invoked St. Julian of Norwich assuring us all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. I, more or less, wondered if they ‘knew not what they were doing.’ 

Now, it should be noted for those of you who do not yet know this, I am — and this is a generous term— a novice in all things green and garden-like. 

I was assured, that this is part of their cycle. Foxtail ferns need to be pruned and lay dormant so that they can then riseth and unfurl to changed into an even more abundant life. 

Call me St. Thomas for I was a’ doubt-in. They looked dead. 


And then… like it knew what year it was… we were forecast to freeze over. And so, as we prepared as best as we knew how at the time with pastoral calls and prayers and pipes and all manner of preparations. Distraught, I again called our faithful Jr. Warden Fernando about the ferns. For if— if— these newly cut roots were ‘not dead yet’ surely they would freeze. 

And so I asked, “What can we do about these ‘dead’ ferns?” And like the faithful Joseph of Arimathea, he said, “We bury them.” 

And so, instead of a “mixture of myrrhs and aloes” we bring in mounds of mulch, “weighing about a hundred pounds” and we bury them. And perhaps, perhaps they will be warm enough furled underneath their tombs. And so — like with so many things this year— when you’ve done the best you can, all that is left to do is to wait and watch and pray and occasionally hope. 

As the weeks went by, I would find myself sighing and grieving what once was but would never quite be in the same way again.

And then, as if it happened in the night, early one morning I noticed one green shoot — ‘now the green blade riseth, from the buried [root]’ And hope — not for what once was, but for what would be— began to unfurl.

As you can now witness, what once was pruned to the point of death and buried is now unfurling into new life. 

And this is my hope and my prayer for all us, that we too might unfurl. 

We might believe in the presence and power of the salvation story that in and through Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, death is not the end. Hell need not freeze over for it too has been harrowed, its gates destroyed, and its power vanquished back into the nothingness of that which is not. Death does not win. God has “rolled away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb.” “Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified…has been raised.” 

And, as we proclaim at Eucharist at every burial in our church, because “Jesus Christ our Lord… rose victorious from the dead… life is changed, not ended.”

Our Risen Christ has the power to change our lives not only eternally, but also now. Part of living in the power of the Risen Christ as an Easter people is choosing to live here and now lives that are changed. Lives that unfurl. 

In our gospel reading from Mark for Easter, we hear the story of the women distraught with grief and furled under the weight of their lives. They expected death buried in a tomb. And yet, Christ had been raised in the night, his resurrection had already taken place, and their — and our— lives had already changed eternally. We see in this gospel that God is not only concerned with the enteral which has already happened and is finished, but also in the present now. 

When you look closely at the text, Mark’s gospel does not tell us the story of an empty tomb; rather, it tell us the story of a very full tomb— a tomb with a young man dressed in a white robe and three women. The women enter the tomb. And yes, in that tomb they are alarmed and amazed and afraid and frozen. They have entered a tomb.

And God cares about them in the now of that moment. God knows it is going to take them a moment to unfurl before they go and tell. 

Beloved, many of us —especially this year — know what it is like to enter a tomb and find ourselves frozen and buried under mound of mulch. Honest? Sometimes it takes us a moment to begin to unfurl. Sometimes we be a’ doubt’n that the Gardener knows what He is doing and that indeed ‘all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well’. And that’s okay. 

For even in the now of these moments: God is with us. God loves us. God is showing us the way of love for the stone has been rolled back so that we too might live — here and now — lives changed by love. 

My hope and my prayer for us all this Easter-tide and beyond is that through the presence and power of our Risen Christ we might unfurl.