Happy Easter! I hope you were able to in some way enjoy the sunshine out there in spite of us still being in full pandemic mode here in BC. We pretty much just stayed home all day playing games, eating some good food (including my son and wife’s home made Rice Krispie™ treats), and we even watched a bit of Back to the Future (my favourite movie growing up).
What I really wanted to do, however, was to get out of the house and do something. Maybe go somewhere to eat, play at a playground, or maybe even catch a movie in a theatre.
But we couldn’t do that. Because pandemic.
I get it though, it’s to keep everyone safe, which I am all for. Regardless of how I feel about not being able to do the things that we enjoyed doing together as a family, I do believe that being safe for our sake and the sake of others really should be on the forefront of everyone’s mind.
It’s still difficult though. But I am thankful that we have our community. We have our family. And we have more ways to connect than we did even 10 years ago, so the blow of this pandemic has been lessened considerably.
So yes, this past year has been long and difficult, but we must hang on to the hope that we will get through this. Perhaps not in one piece or as we were when we went in, but what can you expect from a global pandemic?
It is my hope and prayer that through all of this, that we hang onto our community of support and strength, and especially we hang onto the light of Christ that leads and guides us in the way of grace and mercy.
You might be wondering what all this pandemic talk has to do with these readings. I just find it interesting how Jesus appears not to individuals, but groups. I guess that is to be expected as he did say, “where two or more are gathered…” after all. Poor Thomas wasn’t with the gang when Jesus first appeared, and it seemed like he didn’t really believe the others when they told him what they saw. I guess we can’t really blame him (and perhaps stop calling him “Doubting Thomas”), as their story was technically unbelievable. But a week later Thomas was around, and Jesus appeared again.
And both times, Jesus starts with the same line, “Peace be with you.”
It’s something we say to each other every week, but I wonder how many times we actually contemplate its significance. Wishing peace on someone isn’t just hoping that they’d get a little downtime in the midst of their heavy schedules or be able to escape from the hustle and bustle of life for an afternoon or so. The peace Jesus refers to is the same as the Jewish term “Shalom” which I’m sure you’ve heard before. Wishing this kind of peace on someone is evoking God’s Spirit upon them, giving them wholeness, satisfaction, and contentment. It is more than just joy, but it is the ability to see our innate value and worth in God’s grace. It is a peace in knowing that we are, always have been, and always will be loved by God.
This peace is given to us by the risen Jesus. This peace is found in the breath of the Spirit. This peace is felt in community, our congregation, the whole body of Christ. And it is this peace through which we can weather this storm.
“… if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another …” (I John 1:7a). Light. Fellowship. Each other. There is peace in our community where Christ resides through the Spirit, shining light and love on and all around us for the sake of God’s kingdom. I do believe that this light is most apparent in our love and care for each other, which I know can be shown in different ways but probably best in compassion, empathy, and simply just wearing a mask in these days.
The good news is that this pandemic will surely end. Not tomorrow of course, and maybe not for a little while yet. But we can make it, as we have the Spirit breathed into us and we are empowered to love and live in community and walk in the light of Christ.
Thanks be to God! Peace be with all of you!