Twenty-twenty. When I say those two words I’m not sure if I intend them as a statement or a question. A lot of things could be said about 2020. It feels like we have been exiled from our homeland, from the way things used to be, from what was familiar and comfortable, and maybe even taken for granted. It feels like we are living in a foreign land, waiting and wanting to go home. I don’t know when we’ll get to go home. I hope and pray that with the vaccines and continued use of masks and social distancing we can return sooner than later. But I don’t know. So what do we do in the meantime?
It began about nine months ago. Life was interrupted when the unexpected and unimaginable happened. And I wondered, “How can this be?” Life was changing and things were getting too real too quick. The government made travel decrees. Some family, friends, and businesses closed to us and said, “No, you can’t come in.” Things just aren’t like they used to be. They probably never will be. So much has changed. It feels like it’s been one interruption after another. You know what I’m talking about, right? I’m sure you do. It’s not too hard to figure it out. It’s in the air. It’s all around us. You know, don’t you, that I’m talking about Mary and what she might have thought about the past nine months of her life? I’m talking about the first Christmas. That is what you thought I was talking about, right?
“What could we possibly be thankful for in 2020?” That’s the question Steve Hartman of the CBS Evening News recently asked his kids in this video. I suspect many of us might be asking ourselves the same question Mr. Hartman asked his children. His daughter answered, “Well, instead of saying what we’re thankful for, we could say what was hard for us.” Yes, we could. It’s been a hard year in so many ways. But does difficulty negate or diminish Thanksgiving or giving thanks?
I wonder if we have become so accustomed to the way things are that we can no longer see the needs of others, the injustices done to them, or their pain. I wonder if that’s why in the last several weeks so many of us are in shock over what is happening in our country today. We look on in disbelief and ask, “Why? How could this happen? I don’t understand. I can’t imagine.” Maybe it because complacency has blinded us. What's happening is not new. What’s new (I hope) is our beginning to awaken to what is happening. I think we are hearing and recognizing what’s happening as a prophetic moment in our lives and in the life of America. Events can also be prophetic.
Spoken or unspoken, I think there’s a question every troubled heart is asking. Will the center hold or is everything collapsing around us? That’s my question and maybe it’s your question too. I think it’s one many are asking. And today Jesus answers, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
Jesus says that he is the gate. Gates open and close. Gates keep sheep in, and thieves and bandits out. Gates close to death and open to life. I’m attracted to the gate metaphor because it fits what is happening in our country, our state, our town, your life and my life. I’m talking about reopening.
Whether it is the four seasons of the year or the seven seasons of the liturgical year, each season is a lens through which we see and experience life. Each season offers a unique perspective on life, highlights certain events,…
Alleluia! Christ is risen! It echoes in here when I say that, sort of like it might in an empty tomb. Most everyone is at home, keeping to themselves. Anxiety is in the air. There are no overflowing crowds celebrating Jesus’ resurrection. People are not showing up dressed in their Easter finest. There are no fancy dresses or hats. There are no “eggstravaganzas" or kids gathered with Easter baskets. Friends and family are not sitting down together for a big Easter feast. It’s been a time of turmoil, chaos, and loss. People are shaken, as if by an earthquake. The future is unknown and uncertain.
Holy Saturday is an in between day. It’s the day after Good Friday and the day before Easter. What was is no longer and what will be is not yet. If Good Friday is the day of the loss, Holy Saturday is that day when the reality of the loss begins to set in. And I’ll bet you know what that’s like.
Good Friday - John 18:1-19:42 What about your death gives meaning to your life today? In what ways is death inviting you to live more fully, to connect more deeply with others, to love more freely and completely? My stomach…