Prayer Litany for George Floyd

Litany of Prayer for George Floyd originally written for an Interfaith Vigil on 5/28/2020

Based on Psalm 130, Quran Chapter 5, Verses 27-32, Matthew 22:36-40

One:    Out of the depths we cry to you, Holy One. Hear the cries from our lips and from our hearts. As we lament the death of George Floyd, and all the other unarmed black men and women who have died at the hands of police.

All:      Strengthen our commitment to ending lethal white supremacy and the racism it needs to thrive.

One:    Lord of the worlds, you have told us that to murder one soul is like murdering the whole of humanity. Likewise to save one is to save all of humanity. If we have been silent when police have killed our unarmed black siblings, we share the weight of their deaths. Show us the way to forgiveness.

All:      Strengthen our commitment to ending lethal white supremacy and the racism it needs to thrive.

One:    Almighty One, we have heard your call to love our neighbors as ourselves. Anything that divides us one from another and allows us to dehumanize and devalue any of your children does not come from you; hate and fear always come from our human hearts. Reveal in us the truth of your love.

All:      Strengthen our commitment to ending lethal white supremacy and the racism it needs to thrive.

One:    We call on you, Giver of Mercy, when peaceful protests are invaded by violence and destruction, when calls for justice are buried under rubble created by those who no longer care for the good of all. Teach us your mercy as hope in you guides us to a new morning.

All:      Strengthen our commitment to ending lethal white supremacy and the racism it needs to thrive.

One:    Healer of the World, may we heed your call to change the evil of white supremacy and racism with our hands, our tongues, and our hearts. Awaken us to act with lovingkindness and mercy even as we seek justice for George Floyd and too many others. Guide us in the way of peace.

All:      Strengthen our commitment to ending lethal white supremacy and the racism it needs to thrive.

One:    Faithful God, you continually call us to care for the vulnerable among us, to live with mercy and love. As our tears flow and our anger rises, remind us that we are to love as you love. Unite us in this grief, draw us nearer to one another, and move us to action. Let us hold these moments of unity close to our hearts that we may dismantle systems of injustice and build new systems based on mercy, justice, and love for all people.

All:      Strengthen our commitment to ending lethal white supremacy and the racism it needs to thrive. Unite us in love for you and for all your people as we commit to creating a world where justice becomes a reality for all.

In all your names, we pray. Amen.

These are not words that go with the the Pentecost texts, and yet they must. If you are looking for sermon help, try here where these thoughts came before George Floyd’s murder and the events continuing to unfold in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

RCL – Year A – Pentecost – May 31, 2020
Acts 2:1-21 or Numbers 11:24-30
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 or Acts 2:1-21
John 20:19-23 or John 7:34-39

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Theological Math: We All Add Up to One (at least that’s what Jesus said… um… prayed)

We are connected, you and I, to every other person on the planet, and to the planet itself. If a global pandemic does not awaken us to this truth, nothing will. By the time this pandemic is over, everyone will be touched by it. Most will have lost a loved one to the virus. Many will have lived through having had it. All of our lives will be different from this time forward. Grief is now a universal and simultaneous experience. We are all grieving something. Perhaps the loss of freedom to come and go as we choose. Maybe the loss of employment. Maybe the loss of in-person socializing. Maybe the loss of a loved one. Maybe the heaviness of universal grief weighs on you. These are hard days for all of us. No one is exempt.

If it takes a pandemic to recognize the unity of humanity and creation, what will it take for us to sustain this awareness when we return to healthier days? We are united in sickness and grief. Can we ever be united in health and wholeness? Can we extend the small acts of kindness we offer to one another to those we do not know? If the pandemic has woken us up to the depth of injustice, will a return to health enable us to heal what is broken in systems of justice, education, healthcare, housing, and even religious institutions? I don’t know. I would like to think that the answer is yes, particularly when talking about churches.

Jesus’ prayer for his followers then is his prayer for his followers now – oneness. We are to be one with each other just as Jesus is one with God. That’s intense, isn’t it? However, our society loves kyriarchy. We are conditioned from an early age to believe certain things whether they are true or not. We are taught that some people are better than others even though there is no biblical evidence of this. We are taught that some jobs are more valuable than others simply because they pay more. We are conditioned to “lord it over” someone from the time we are very little. Men are better than women. Binary is better than diversity. White is better than Black. Gay is better than straight. Able is better than disabled. Healthy is better than sick. Perceived wholeness is better than visible brokenness. Skinny is better than fat. And on down the list. None of these things are true and, yet, we turn ourselves inside out and upside down trying to comply with these social norms. To what end?

COVID-19 has highlighted some shortfalls, some sins, some awful systemic flaws in our society that are built on kyriarchy. Even the church in some, if not all of its forms, will tell us that the wealthy are more blessed than the poor. So when those who live in poverty and those who experience homelessness are dying at a higher rate than others during this pandemic, we are inclined to blame the victims. We want to say that People of Color, particularly Black people, are dying from this virus because of the choices they have made. This, my friends, is kyriarchy in general and racism specifically. We have participated in a culture that preferences white over black (and all other POC), conservative Christian over all other religious identities, cis males over all other gender identities and expressions, perceived mental and physical wellness over visible illness or disability in body, mind, or spirit, and more culturally determined preferences as well. Where is the oneness Jesus desires for those who follow him? Where is the oneness with ourselves, our neighbors, and Creation, let alone with God?

If we learn anything from this pandemic, may it be that we are all connected. When we do not embrace this connectedness, people die and the planet is damaged. We have kept God waiting long enough, don’t you think? Now would be an excellent time to seek to strengthen our relationships, to built the unity God desires for us. Yes, it is possible to read scripture in a way that says, “unless you are like me, then you are outside of God’s saving love.” This reading is inconsistent with Jesus’ desire for oneness among his followers, oneness built on and consisting of Divine Love. Maybe the pandemic can remind us that anything that is not Love is not from God. And when we remember this, we are better equipped to reach out to those we have perceived to be lower than us on the ladder of privilege (and socially constructed preference) and endeavor to raise them up until there is no more “us and them.”

Now is a good time to put on your mask, even if you don’t think you need it, to show how much you value your neighbors. Then stay six feet from anyone you are not living with (unless your job requires something different) and greet all your neighbors with a friendly wave and “hello.” And while we are at it, keep worshiping online. It is more inclusive, more loving than any way we can worship right now. There’s no limit to the number who can come together, no prohibition on singing or communion or passing the Peace or collecting the offering, and no need for masks, gloves, or cleaning everything when service is over. Let’s take a moment to breathe deeply and contemplate how we as the Body of Christ can best foster oneness and build unity among all people. Perhaps we can bring God’s long wait for us to recognize the humanity and divinity in all our neighbors to and end.

RCL – Year A – Seventh Sunday of Easter – May 24, 2020
Acts 1:6-14
Ps 68:1-10, 32-35
1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
John 17:1-11

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Chaos, Church, and Butterfly Wings

My favorite seminary professor, Dr. James Loder, often referenced physics when discussing theology. Every time I went to his office I was fascinated by the equations and notes that covered the white boards on his walls. Very little of it made sense to me. However, when Dr. Loder spoke, and shared his views on how string theory and chaos theory made profound theological sense, I could almost feel new understanding opening up in my brain. I’d never had a physics class and yet, it was clear to me in those long conversations how closely related science and theology really were. There were remarkable things that physics explained that could be metaphors for some theological concepts and, sometimes the reverse was also true.

I am reminded of this as I read Jesus’ words in John’s Gospel, “…you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” At first these words are nearly impossible to comprehend in any way. Then I thought of the “butterfly effect” in chaos theory. The popularization of of this is the idea that a butterfly flaps its wings in Japan which sets off a series of meteorological events that results in an earthquake in California. My take away is that everything in the universe is more deeply connected than we can even begin to understand. Jesus’ words say this on a more personal level. We are more deeply connected to God and to one another than we can even begin to understand.

With over 300,000 COVID-19 deaths around the world and nearly 90,000 in the US, we are connected by grief, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. What we do impacts our neighbors near and far, whether we admit it or not. Those of us who are rushing back out into the world because we are desperate to “get back to normal,” may be risking their lives or the lives of their neighbors. What we do in the world effects others. We can’t get away from this truth. The more we refuse to look at the truth of this pandemic, the more lives we put at risk. The more we put our individual needs ahead of the greater good, the more lives we put at risk. Who knows how many lives can be changed by one unmasked cough or sneeze or the runner or cyclist who refuses to mask and doesn’t maintain physical distance as they hurry on by.

When Jesus spoke of the indwelling nature of God, he was trying to assure his disciples that they would not be abandoned or forgotten after his death. In fact, the more love they shared, the more deeply they would be connected to each other, to him, and to the One who sent him. That was supposed to be good news. Perhaps it was for those first disciples. Perhaps it’s just us later disciples who have forgotten that we are not alone and that God dwells within us and is made known in our relationships – our words and our actions.

It’s not that I don’t want to resume the activities I enjoyed before the pandemic. I do just as much as anyone else does. I want to be able to gather with friends and family, and resume traveling for vacation and conferences. I want to be able to go to a grocery story or whatever. And, yes, I want to gather for worship with my congregation again. Yet, I will not do these things and I ask you not to do them, either, if you do not have to. No one is immune to COVID-19. Any of us could be asymptomatic carriers. I will not knowingly risk my life or anyone else’s. We know that the activities that are at the core of our worship services would be risky. Singing, passing the peace, communion, all have serious risks.

Remember Jesus’s words about how intimately connected we are? Who among us wants to be the butterfly that causes the earthquake, the vector that spreads disease? In the U.S. we can’t even seem to own our collective grief, let alone acknowledge our responsibility one to another. If we think of the indwelling nature of God and how Love unifies us, could this prompt the church to lead the world in maintaining safety for the vulnerable among us? Could it be that the most Loving thing we can do right now is to continue to worship online, continue to stay at home as much as humanly possible, continue to love our neighbors by keeping our germs to ourselves?

If I understand Jesus words at all, it is Divine Love which dwells within us and connects us with our neighbors because Divine Love dwells in them as well. When one of us disregards this Love, then we put all of us at risk. When one of us forgets this Love, all of us are in jeopardy. If one of us is vulnerable, all of us are vulnerable. My friends, the Body of Christ has COVID-19. It is up to us to see that life-sustaining resources are shared until healing comes for all. Let’s not be so hasty to resume old habits. Let’s be patient and see what new life is emerging in the midst of sickness, death, and grief.

We are not orphaned. We are loved by an indwelling God. May Love guide us to new ways of living and being so that our actions may lead to healing, health, and wholeness rather than sickness, death, and grief. When we as the Body of Christ flap our metaphoric wings, may the resulting winds open up new possibilities for life and Love.

RCL – Year A – Sixth Sunday of Easter – May 17, 2020
Acts 17:22-31
Psalm 66:8-20
1 Peter 3:13-22
John 14:15-21

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The Way. The Truth. The Life.

The way. The truth. The life. These words may not mean what you think. They are not a claim on the superiority of Christianity. They are not meant to raise Jesus followers to an elite status. Jesus spoke them (at least according to the writer of the Fourth Gospel) to his disciples in order to prepare them for his impending death. In John’s Gospel Jesus makes a valiant effort to remind his disciples of everything he taught them in the few days before his crucifixion. He knew they would literally be afraid for their lives and worried about what would happen in those first weeks after his death. It would be a while before they realized that he had been preparing them to continue his work for the entire time they had followed him. The disciples tended to be slow learners.

This means there is hope for us. We who are followers today are also slow to remember all that Jesus taught. Even though who know the whole story of ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection and we have had a couple thousand years to embody Jesus’ teachings, we still don’t quite manage to do it. Here we are in days that are strikingly similar to the days that Jesus tried to prepare his disciples for while they struggled with what he told them. We, too, are afraid to be out in the world because we could catch a deadly virus (and yes, there are those among us who are afraid to go out in the world because those with power could kill them). We, too, are heavily burdened by grief – the loss of loved ones, the loss of connections, the loss of some freedom of movement, the loss of jobs, and more. With all of this and more, it is hard to remember, let alone emobdy, what Jesus taught.

While we cannot imagine that there is a way through these days of COVID-19, Jesus reminds us that there is. God’s way will get us through. More specifically, the Way that Jesus embodied – the way of Love. If we remember that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and care for the most vulnerable among us, we increase the odds that we will survive this pandemic. The most loving things we can do right now are to maintain physical distancing, stay home as much as possible, and wear a mask when we do need to go out. Then we can think about what we need and what our neighbors need. We don’t need to hoard toilet paper or cleaning products. We don’t need to fill our freezers with meat. We can take only what we need so that there will be enough for all. We can live with an abundance mentality in spite of the government’s emphasis on scarcity. We can care for our neighbors when the current Administration would rather keep us divided. Yes, the Way of Love will get us through much of what troubles us these days.

When we need guidance on this Way, then we can reflect on what Jesus lived and taught as Truth. Truth is often difficult to uncover these days. However, I’m not talking about facts, necessarily. I’m talking about the Truth of our need for one another. The Truth that we are not in this alone and we will only make it through by recognizing how interdependent we are. No one is outside of God’s reach. No one is beyond the need to be seen and re-membered, re-connected (or connected for the first time) to a loving community. If we say we are Christians, followers of Christ, then the Truth we must embody is that God’s Love is for all people and we are to be agents of that Love. This means dismantling white supremacy that is ingrained into all U.S. systems and institutions. This means believing that no one deserves COVID-19 just as no one deserves to live in poverty without access to adequate healthcare and doing something about it. No one deserves the pain and grief of this pandemic. The Truth is that this virus is not from God and it is the Way of Love that will enable us to navigate to the other side. We need each other to ensure that no one goes unseen and that the foolishness coming out of Washington does not go unchallenged.

Life is what happens most abundantly when we are united by Love. Jesus made this clear over and over again. If we want to have life, then we must love. Love as Jesus loved. Love our neighbors as ourselves. We need to be known for our Love. Simple enough, right? Nope. It wasn’t simple for the first disciples and it’s not simple for us. This is why Jesus told them not to let their hearts be troubled or afraid. He knew just how easy it was for human beings to be consumed by worry and fear, how easily we are led away from the hard Way of Love. It doesn’t make us bad people, this tendency to wander from the Way. It means we are human and that we need to be reminded of all that Jesus taught again and again. Maybe even more now in the midst of this global crisis. We can have life. We know how to attain it. More importantly, we know how to share its abundance. We can do it…when we remember.

Let’s all take a deep breath and relax a little bit. We have what we need in this moment. We do know the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We know the house of God has room enough for all. We can be agents of this Good News. When we are exhausted from too much Zoom, trying to be teachers and parents to our children while working full time from home, figuring out how to stretch our diminished paychecks, sorting through the news, looking for hope, carrying grief, and all the tiring things that come from staying at home and missing the life we had, it is possible to take a breath. It is possible to reach through our exhausting to connect with someone who feels alone and hopeless.

Jesus knew what he was doing when he spoke to his disciples in those days before his death. May his words speak to us now and remind us of all that we know. May we be the embodiment of the Way, the Truth, and the Life in this time of crisis, fear, and isolation.

RCL – Year A – Fifth Sunday of Easter – May 10, 2020
Acts 7:55-60
Psalm 31:1-5,15-16
1 Peter 2:2-10
John 14:1-14

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A Pastor’s Prayer in the midst of Pandemic

Shepherding God, my desire is to follow you to those green pastures and still waters. I want to rest in you. Yet, rest is rare in these days of crisis, and stillness if fraught with exhaustion. Caring for your people, and finding the right path through this deep valley weighs heavily on my spirit. I often forget that you are with me and that it is your ways that I seek. Awaken me once again to your presence that I may live in your pastures even now.

Restoring and renewing God, you know my heart even before I do. You know the fears I will not give voice to, and you know the dreams I hardly dare to acknowledge. May the whispers of your spirit bring a new assurance and restore peace to my soul. With every budding flower and every soaring hawk, I am reminded that you are at work restoring Creation. Yours is always a promise of new life. Grant me the courage to trust that promise.

Ever-present God, it isn’t evil that fear, exactly. It is the anger, the despair that drives some people to aggression or selfishness. I fear the ignorance propagated by inadequate public leadership. I fear the desperation that grows in so many of my neighbors. I fear the frailty of this body of mine. Enter into these fears, God of life, and renew a right spirit within me.

Comforting God, you are present even now amid COVID-19. While faith will not protect me or anyone else from this virus, your Love can guide humanity if we let it. We can show up for our neighbors who have lost loved ones, employment, hope. We can share resources and not hoard them for ourselves. We can find hope for this world, for humanity, for a future unlike our past. If we rely on your Love, it becomes possible to address the brokenness highlighted by this crisis. Guide us all onto the path that will end all fear of the “other” and heal divisions we have created.

Merciful and healing God, I am at a loss for words when it comes to the suffering of so many. It is hard to believe that healing will come. It is hard to believe that the whole world won’t sink into despair that is impossible to rise out of. Yet, you promise all who seek you will find goodness and mercy. May this be true for those who are grieving… for those who struggle with symptoms of mental illness… for those who have no hope… for those who believe the lies of the politicians… for the politicians themselves… Guide us all to the cup that overflows.

God of life and Love, you have opened the gate of possibility for us all. We can give in to fear or we can choose Love. Forgive me for the moments when Love seems impossible and wholeness seems elusive. You are the gate to new life, to abundant life. Abundance of joy and Love and forgiveness and mercy and so much more are possible even in this time. Fill me with gratitude for all that I have and enable me to pass through your gate to live a life of generosity and grace.

In gratitude and hope, I pray. Be with all who struggle to live in hope and Love. Be with all who risk their lives for the sake of others. Be with all who are surrounded by death. May every human being experience the wonders of your Love and the life of abundance you freely offer. Awaken the hearts and minds of every dreamer and visionary to speed the day of hope and healing for all people. In the meantime, teach me anew what it means to trust in you – in your presence, in your Love, in your grace, in your mercy, in your forgiveness that I may share your abundance with all whom I meet. In the name of the One who came to teach us how to Love one another, Amen.

If you are in need of sermon help, try here.

RCL – Year A – Fourth Sunday of Easter – May 3, 2020
Acts 2:42-47
Psalm 23
1 Peter 2:19-25
John 10:1-10

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Traveling Companions

On the fifth anniversary of my mother’s death, I find myself thinking about all the roads I have traveled – literally and figuratively. I’ve been on roads in many states and a few other countries. Some were crowded city roads and others were quiet rural roads. I’ve traveled on foot, on bicycle, on motor cycle, in cars as passenger and driver, and on buses. Many miles and many places. Sometimes I had great company and other times uncomfortable companions. Many times I traveled alone. And one very memorable time I was accompanied by a herd of dairy cows.

That was on a mountainous road in the North East Kingdom of Vermont many years ago. I was riding my new mountain bike and had gone several miles when a bolt fell off the front tire. Since I was young and not an experienced cyclist, I didn’t have any tools with me. My solution was to pick up my bike and walk home. As I carried the bike on one shoulder with the tire in my other hand, I made my ways slowly along the very rural road. Occasionally, cars would pass and slow down with driver and passengers staring at me as they went. This annoyed me each time it happened. After about 45 minutes of this happening (maybe 6 cars), I stopped, set down my bike, and turned around. The passing cars weren’t staring at me; they were amused, no doubt, by the 30 or so cows following me on the other side of the fence. I laughed. What else could I do.

Most of my traveling hasn’t had such amusing company. I think about the times I was on roads to run away from where I had been. Sometimes, even to run toward something new. Roads that led to new people and places. Roads that led to new places that would become home. Roads so filled with memories that tears of longing come to my eyes. So many people, places, experiences… life. I am grateful for those who have shared the journey on the long drives and the short trips. There are more roads ahead, I’m sure. I wonder who I will meet and where I will go…

These thoughts lead me to the two who were on the road to Emmaus on that first Easter day. Cleopas and the unnamed one. Were they going home? Had they been in Jerusalem just for Passover and were heading back to resume their everyday life? Had they been part of the larger group of disciples and now didn’t have a place to be and so were moving on? Were they heading to friends who didn’t yet know all that had happened? Were they running away from Jerusalem or toward Emmaus? The scriptures don’t tell us. All we know is that they were on the road to Emmaus and were joined by an unexpected travel companion.

Who among us wouldn’t want this companion to travel with us? He listened to all they had to say. Then he invited them deeper into the Mystery of their experiences. He stayed with them and ate with them. Then, as they broke bread, their eyes were opened and the Spirit burned within them. Now I’ve taken some walks and had a sense of the Spirit’s presence in some places, but nothing like this. But what if I’ve journeyed with the Risen Christ and not known it? What if we all have?

In these days of COVID-19 and physical distancing the idea of a long journey in the company of friends sounds awesome in and of itself. However, what might change for us if we start actively expecting the Risen Christ to accompany us? What if we look for the Holy One all the time and everywhere? Would the masked faces of strangers be transformed into friends or siblings? Would our fears be lessened? Would we be able to breathe more deeply knowing that Christ is with us on these strange and uncertain roads we are traveling? Would it make a difference to know that God is listening to our hearts and inviting us deeper into the Mystery that is our lives?

I think it might. We know that what is coming out of the Oval Office is mostly nonsense and meant to invoke fear and foster division and hatred. Instead of giving in to that, let’s think about those “others” we meet on our streets as if they were the Risen Christ. Let’s think about those faces we see on the news as companions on the journey. We are all needing someone to listen to our experiences, validate our fears, calm our anxious minds.

Right now, there is no equality on the journey. All of us are not in the same boat. All of us are not traveling the same road or with adequate supplies. If we are looking for the Risen Christ, then when our eyes are opened we will see the inequity and how this virus is magnifying the pre-existing conditions created by systemic racism. We will see that the President is making this worse and black people are dying at much higher rates than white folx. We will see income gaps getting bigger and education disparities widening. Perhaps the injustice will burn within us and motivate us to move differently in this world.

After all, we cannot go back to what was any more than those two on that ancient road could have gone back to whatever life they had before the crucifixion and resurrection. There is no going back to “normal” after COVID-19. Something new will emerge in the coming months and years. The question is whether we are on a road that will lead to new life because we are open to the Mystery of Resurrection or are we remaining on a road that is more akin to crucifixion because we are unwilling to risk change for the sake of our companions on the journey.

We are all on the journey. With whom are we traveling? Do we recognize the Risen Christ who accompanies us? Will we allow our eyes to be opened and our hearts to burn within us?

RCL – Year A – Third Sunday of Easter – April 26, 2020
Acts 2:14a, 36-41
Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19
1 Peter 1:17-23
Luke 24:13-35

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A Living Hope

I like Thomas. I’ve always liked Thomas. He was falsely labeled as “doubting Thomas.” Imagine being Thomas. Jesus died a week before and you’ve been sequestered with the rest of the 11 for fear of the Jewish and Roman authorities. Someone has to go out for supplies and so you go. Never would you have imagined the tales told upon your return. Jesus walked through the locked door and breathed the Holy Spirit on the 10 gathered there. You aren’t happy about this at all. Are they telling the truth? Are they messing with you? If they are telling the truth and it all happened, why weren’t you included? Maybe your response isn’t doubt so much as it is hurt feelings. No one likes to be left out of something so important.

If Thomas’ response was based on feeling left out and hurt, it makes more sense. The resurrected Christ shows up when he wasn’t there. Who could blame him for saying that he wouldn’t believe unless he saw and touched Jesus for himself? Surely, most of us can relate to that? As the kid who was always picked last for elementary school gym class activities, I feel for Thomas and don’t blame him for being angry, hurt, and more than a little jealous.

That being said, I’m not sure how helpful looking at this aspect of the story is for us in these days of COVID-19. After all, aren’t we all pretty much locked in our homes for fear of the virus? Many of us are complaining about not “feeling” the season of Easter. Who can believe in the possibility of resurrection when fear, death, and grief are literally all around us? Aren’t we better off joining Thomas in his feelings and declaring that we aren’t going to believe unless we see or touch resurrection for ourselves?

If we are honest about where we are at, we might discover something amazingly powerful and hopeful in this overly familiar story. If we can acknowledge our fear, our doubt, our grief, our sadness, and our anger over all that COVID-19 has done to disrupt and destroy our sense of “normal,” then we might be ready to figure out where God is in the midst of this.

John tells us that Jesus entered the room through locked doors, not once but twice. No amount of fear or grief or anger or sadness or jealousy kept out the Risen Christ. Moreover, Christ entered the room to breathe peace, the peace of the Holy Spirit. I imagine Jesus breath of life blowing away the dust of fear and the cobwebs of anxiety to allow a bit of hope and healing to shine through. This breath of peace made it possible for those huddled in that room to begin to imagine a future without Jesus with them, a future that could bring hope and healing to the wider world. This is the real miracle in this story. The Risen Christ woke up the church, or those who would become church.

No locked doors can stop the Risen Christ from entering in. The fact that the doors of our churches are locked and that we are all scattered will not stop the Risen Christ from entering in. Assuming that the Risen Christ is still about breathing out the Holy Spirit, then it’s possible for the dust of fear and the cobwebs of anxiety to be blown off of us – no matter how we are gathering. What might happen if the breath of life is awakening the church anew right now?

Resurrection is not usually the response we have to death and destruction. Yet, it is God’s response. Our reluctance to believe or participate in resurrection does not prevent it from happening. The planet is awakening in new ways while humanity is sheltering in place. Why not the church, too? Why not humanity as a whole? After all, with God all things are possible, even the Body of Christ rising up to new life in the midst of COVID-19 destruction.

The power of the Holy Spirit, the presence of the Risen Christ is not dependent on our buildings, our rituals, or our traditions, fortunately for us. Let’s all take a deep breath and look around to find out what God is doing in our midst and then join in – keeping to a faithful physical distance, of course. Maybe we might get lucky enough to see and touch resurrection for ourselves. Or, maybe, just being a part of it means we don’t have to touch anything.

Peace be with you, my friends, as we all do this new thing and expect the Risen Christ to show up in our relationships with one another.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By God’s great mercy God has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading…

RCL – Year A – Second Sunday of Easter – April 19, 2020
Acts 2:14a, 22-32
Psalm 16
1 Peter 1:3-9
John 20:19-31

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