I’ve been doing a live stream for ABCNJ ever since the “stay at home” order has been in effect in New Jersey 1. It’s been an interesting exercise in social dynamics because we’ve been tapping every author for our Lenten Devotional to come on to the stream and read their entry. And also because my streaming software is only set up to take external calls from Skype 2.
But at least it’s not Zoom.
This week is Holy Week, which has felt weird. I brought this up with two separate pastors who each made an interesting point which at first seemed helpful, but still misses a big part of the story. The disciples on Good Friday were mostly distant, hiding from folks who had condemned our savior to death. In some ways, we’re like that now. We’re hiding from an enemy we can’t see, and which makes folks who seem healthy a potential threat to our well-being.
In other ways, our present experience is nothing like this.
Jesus’ closest disciples, for the most part, hid from danger together. Even after Jesus’ death they were able to be in each other’s physical presence as they attempted to process everything which had happened in the week since Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. We don’t have that, and that’s what makes this week so weird.
Now, we do have the Internet. Streaming, social media, and direct connections like FaceTime and texting have all been a blessing. They have taken some of the sting of this separation away. At the same time, I miss being in people’s presence as we walk the journey through the Cross and on to the Resurrection together 3. More than anything I will miss singing songs of resurrection as “Hallelujah” rejoins our worship language. It’s a moment to which I look forward every year, and in 2020 will not happen on Easter Sunday. In fact, I doubt we’ll be back together in worship before Pentecost.
We will celebrate the resurrection when we come back together in person. It’s going to be marvelous. But at present it’s almost like the three days from Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday is being expanded into weeks, and that leaves me grieving.
And, as I have written a number of times since this Pandemic washed over us, let me assure you it is good to grieve. The temptation we all face is to simplify things and skip over the grieving process. We want to say “every Sunday is Easter,” or slap a meme on our situation which boils everything we’re going through into a simplistic thought. My best pastoral advice is, “Tell this temptation to take a long walk off a short pier.”
Sunrise service is cancelled. Grieve.
When we say, “He is risen” the resounding response “He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!” from a full 4 sanctuary won’t ring back upon us. Grieve.
We won’t see extended family members around a special meal. Grieve.
Our worlds have shrunk to spaces as small as several rooms of an apartment. Grieve.
And in our grieving may we hear Jesus’ words, “It is finished.” So we might look forward to a time when grief is past and new life has begun. The New Creation will come.
But for now, grieve.