This Sunday (May 3rd) is the 4th Sunday of the Easter Season.
It is traditionally a Sunday to emphasize the care that God provides us, God’s people and, indeed, all of creation.
In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, we can find ourselves wondering about that care. Is it still there? Does is still apply? Did it ever? Has it changed?
I don’t think God’s care for us HAS changed. However, the situation in which we currently live has forced us to think differently ABOUT that care.
And as hard as this may be, it’s probably ok for us to be doing this “different thinking.”
After all, our situation has changed rather drastically. It makes a certain amount of sense that our thinking just might need to change, too, in order to keep up.
That being said, be gentle with yourself as you do this “different thinking,” as you learn how to process your experiences in new ways. You’ve had your whole life to get to this point! It’s ok that it might take a while to adjust.
It is an oft-quoted aphorism, but it’s true – Life is not about the destination; it’s about the journey.
We are most definitely “on the road” right now! And, quite frankly, we’re not too sure about where we are heading.
But Good Shepherd Sunday reminds us that we have not been abandoned. The Shepherd is simply taking us to a new pasture.
The only possible answer to the question above… is Yes.
Yes, it’s Easter.
And yes, it’s still Good Friday.
Here in Nova Scotia, people are senselessly dead for no good reason, sacrificed to the twin gods of ego and self destruction. Family, friends, neighbours and co-workers around the province are in shock. Communities, already isolated by Covid-19, are devastated, and cannot even get together to hold on to each other.
This is the time of year when the church wants to talk about new life, yet we are surrounded by hatred and fear and anger and death.
This is the time of year we celebrate God with us, but the prayers around us (and, to be honest, within us) sound much more like Jesus’ prayer from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
This is the time of year when we look for signs of renewal (bud, blossoms, bees), but the news is all about endings and conclusions and brutal finality.
So, what do we do?
I think we start with honesty.
This whole experience is just wrong. And nothing we can say is going to make it right. Or better. Not even a little bit.
And in spite of all of the well meaning platitudes, “We’ll get through this,” or “Better days are coming,” or “We rise again,” right now we are in the middle of Good Friday.
We might as well own that.
Ironically, it is Easter that enables us to “own” this new experience of Good Friday.
It doesn’t make it better. It doesn’t make it easy. It doesn’t make the pain or shock or anger go away.
But it reminds us that we don’t go through it alone.
We can be honest about what we are going through. We can admit our shock and hurt, our numbness and rage, precisely because of the Easter promise that God walks with us, even in the worst experiences of our lives.
We do not demand that others see it this way. The folks who have lost family, friends, neighbours and co-workers last weekend are most likely too raw to see much of anything right now.
And that’s ok.
But we can do whatever we can to surround them with love and care and support. We can do whatever we can to walk with whoever is hurting, so that they know that they are not alone.
Our job right now, as the church of Easter, is to be present with those who are still in the middle of Good Friday, to cry with them, to sit in silence with them, to mourn with them, to pray with them, to hurt with them.
It is precisely here, in the raw parts of life, that we are called to trust the promise of Easter.
Because it is Easter. Even in the middle of Good Friday.
In spite of Covid-19, in spite of lock downs, in spite of restricted travel and “social distancing” and confusion and cabin fever and no public gatherings in church (or anywhere else for that matter), Jesus showed up, and brought New Life with him.
Sure, it’s different. Yes, adjustments needed to be made (and will continue to need to be made). Absolutely, it feels strange.
And that will continue, too.
But that’s the great thing about new life: it’s NEW!
It’s not like it was before. It’s not a continuing version of what we knew. It’s not just perpetuating the old.
The New Life of Easter is NEW. Brand new. Completely new. Totally new.
And that’s worth celebrating, even if we are stuck inside!
Christ is risen indeed!
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Here’s a link to a fun little Easter greeting. Pass it along!
And here are links to the liturgies we are making available for the Sundays of Easter. Feel free to share them.
Below is a link to the video which our Lunenburg Ministerial Association put together for Good Friday.
We had originally planned to hold a joint, ecumenical service at St. John’s Anglican Church in Lunenburg this year.
Since that is not an option, we decided to use the liturgy we would have used, but share it in a more appropriate way, give the Covid-19 pandemic.
May God bless us all with an increased awareness, not only of the presence of God in the middle of our suffering and isolation, but also of the inherent connection between people, and between people and creation, all of which are loved by the God who came, who died, who rose, and who comes, now and always.