We are on the precipice of the Holy Weekend.
I am constantly taken by the fact that on the first “Easter,” Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to Mary then the disciples whether they were ready for it or not. He had told them, repeatedly, that this was going to happen. I wonder if this was in any of their minds on the Friday as Jesus was being crucified? Was there any sense for these followers who were the first to hear Jesus talk about rising from the dead that maybe he was speaking the truth? Just maybe this thing he talked about might happen? Was there a sense of awe and mystery? Of leaning forward in their seats to wait with bated breath just in case it could happen?
Before I continue with my reflections, I want to preface this with my sense of heartbreak for those in Queensland, and especially Brisbane, who are finding themselves caught up in renewed fear, worry and restrictions. It is hard at any time, and perhaps especially hard as holiday-season approaches. I grieve with and for them.
In many ways it feels to me like we are re-entering the world and life itself as across our country we get more in control of COVID-19 outbreaks, and as the immunisation program rolls out. There seems a general sense of hopefulness about the future. At the same time, I am worried that there is also a sense of “returning to normal” that is creeping into the Church. My concern is that we will try to return to “business as usual,” and in the rush to return we will forget to watch and pay close attention for what God might be doing amongst us and in the world around us.
While I don’t believe for a moment that God caused the pandemic that has had (and continues to have) such a huge human cost in terms of life, grief, hardship, and suffering, I do believe that God is present and active in this time. I believe that God is encouraging us to look again at who we are as God’s people, and how we are engaged in the world, especially in and through our local communities. I believe God is, as we are reminded in Isaiah 43:19, “… doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” And I believe that the Easter story is a reminder to look for the new thing God is doing today.
When Jesus died for the sake of all creation, God was doing a new thing. When Jesus rose from death, I can imagine God painting a wonderful sunrise across the earth to say, “now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” As we begin the transition from pandemic to post-pandemic, and as God continues, as God has always done, to do a new thing, I hope and pray that our eyes will be open to see what God is doing, and that our hearts and hands and feet will be ready to place us on the way in the wilderness alongside the streams in the wasteland… in fact, anywhere that God is bringing life and love and hope and joy.
As they became more ready to accept the risen Christ, the first followers of Jesus were deeply changed. We see the evidence of this throughout the book called The Acts of the Apostles. They became more alert to the new thing God was doing, and more ready to join in with what God was doing, even when it led them beyond their comfort zones, beyond what was “normal” for them. Is this something we are prepared to open ourselves up to, even though it might mean that we too are deeply changed, even though it might mean that our Congregation is deeply changed?
This Easter season, I pray we will find ourselves on the edges of our seats, leaning forward to be alert for signs of resurrected life and the new thing that God is doing. This is the posture that will enable us to spring forward and join in as God leads us into life and love and Easter joy.
Blessings and peace,