FIRST, a reflection…
It goes without saying that this has been a difficult, weird, even bizarre season of Lent. And Holy Week promises to be even more. This is a time of uncertainty and bewilderment. Just what has our world come to…and more importantly…what is next?
I don’t know. No one knows. Well, God knows, but that’s different – that’s God. And God’s not saying too much these days. Except for a few fringy preachers who are convinced God speaks only to them, and no one else, God seems pretty silent.
But remember? We are on the verge of Holy Week. And in Holy Week, God speaks – big time! God speaks words of redemption, reconciliation, and renewal. But not just words. God doesn’t just talk a good line. God speaks and God acts to bring forth life, life that can never be lost. That is the message we bring to the world during this time of pandemic.
A few days ago a colleague of mine observed that the Church (no, not the institution, but the people of God, the Body of Christ) has a message that no one else has, and a message that the world desperately needs. It’s a message the world has always needed, but now, today, it needs that message more than ever – the word that a good and gracious God, acting through Jesus Christ, has overcome the powers of sin, evil and death. That in Jesus, God has embraced the world (the whole world) in arms of mercy, and continues to restore us to life. God redeems, reconciles and renews the world. Even now.
Those are the words we will hear as we walk through Holy Week. I will send another reflection later in the week with our Holy Week worship schedule, but for now, here’s a “sneak peak” into each of our worship experiences…
Palm Sunday prepares us for the week, hearing the story. And even though we are “safer at home,” and our worship is online, the story is a story that is out in the world.
Maundy Thursday we come together around soap and water. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Having been washed, now it’s my turn.
Good Friday, and the darkness descends. But a glimmer of light remains. Does the story end with the cross, or is there one more chapter to be written?
Easter, and life is around us. Even in a closed church, a frightened world, and a fearful humanity, there is life. Really. Come and see!
Yes, a different Holy Week. Instead of close to 1000 in the building, we will have…let’s see…less than ten (2 of us times four worship services).
And instead of organ, brass, choir, and congregation, we’ve got a few pieces recorded two weeks ago (we planned ahead), but just not the same.
And no flowers.
Yes, this will be different.
But the gospel message will remain the same. The words of a gracious God. The same words heard by the earliest Christians. The same words heard during the darkest of the “Dark Ages.” The same words that moved Martin Luther, and countless other saints throughout the ages. The same words that brought hope in times of war and economic challenge.
The same words we hear today during a pandemic. There is life, there is hope, there is a future. The words of this coming week, the words of Holy Week!
Now, SECOND, my request…
As you go about your lives in the next few days, watch for signs of new life, of God’s presence in your little corner of the world. A bud on a tree, a bird or other wildlife, people (from a distance) making a difference, whatever you happen to see. Be insightful and to seeing God where God chooses to be, even someplace you might not have expected.
Take a picture and send it to me. I’d like to use a whole bunch of pictures as part of our worship on Easter. I’d like the pictures by the end of the day on Tuesday, April 7. Share with me – and with others – ways in which God is speaking life and hope to you!
Thanks for your help. Know that you remain our prayers, and that you are always held in God’s tender care.