Our worship service for the 3rd Sunday of Easter is ready to go live on April 26th, 2020 at 10am. The bulletin for this service can be found here. The full manuscript of the sermon is found below the video.
We will be celebrating communion again, so if you don’t know from previous weeks, please have a small something to eat and drink ready for that portion of the service. We do this with the belief that Christ is present with all of us even when we are socially distanced in ways we don’t always understand or recognise.
Please feel free to leave a comment down below or on our YouTube channel for any ways that the service could serve you better, and we will try to integrate as much as we can. Although it’s been over a month of this, we are still new to this format and are always willing to improve! You can click the link directly in the video itself (in the top banner) or directly underneath the video to get to YouTube to join our live chat during the premiere or just to leave a comment whenever you like.
Peace be with you!
O God you have opened for us the meaning of your Holy Scriptures and like the disciples on the road to Emmaus our hearts are set ablaze. By the power of your Spirit, fan the flames of our hearts to hear and see you proclaimed in the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
So you might have heard that there have been protests happening around the States and elsewhere over these lockdowns we’ve been having. There are people out there who are angry about losing their jobs with just about all but essential services closing down. There are people who are getting restless because they are told to stay at home when they really don’t want to. And then there are those who are just getting sick with how long it’s been since they were allowed to get a proper haircut.
And I get it though, it is tough losing your job and perhaps your only source of income. It is frustrating not being able to do anything or go anywhere. And it is so annoying when your hair is in this transition phase, not exactly long but definitely not short, and it gets really itchy as your scalp adjusts and… anyway, we aren’t in the greatest of situations and moods with this whole pandemic.
So people have been protesting. “Give me liberty or give me COVID,” they’re saying, perhaps not understanding that in this case they are one and the same. Don’t get me wrong though, I believe everyone has their right to protest and certainly the right to be angry and even the right to disagree with the authorities on what we should and shouldn’t do. And like I said, I understand the frustration and disapproval that these protestors have. So I’m in no way saying that people shouldn’t be protesting, just don’t spread any COVID germs around if you do.
On the flip side, there are people that I’ve been seeing on the internet that are totally up in arms against these protestors. The name calling, the ridiculing, the wishing death upon them, well is it really all that different in terms of attitude, angry behaviour, and divisive actions?
So I guess it’s funny how we have two such opposing sides, but the same kind of anger. Two different opinions, but the same quarantine situation. Two different interpretations, but the same exact virus that has affected the world in a way that this generation has never seen before. And in the middle of these differing sides? Interpretation. How we see what is going on is going to inform us how we feel about it, and how we feel about it is going to inform what we do in response of it. So maybe it’s to defect against social isolation and protest, maybe it’s to comply to social isolation and be a keyboard warrior, or maybe it’s neither and just what you can to make it day by day.
And I know, I’m saying this from a very privileged place, as I haven’t lost my job nor have had any one close to me contract or die from the coronavirus. Still, it is hard to deny some of the good that is happening out there, like I see the amount of care being shown from stranger to stranger; I see the amount of dedication that is brought out by essential service workers even those making just minimum wage, I see the amount of selflessness that people have in general as many are rallying together in the face of this pandemic. But not everyone sees that I guess, and thus makes their interpretation of this situation a little more bleak.
Today’s gospel reading has a story of people who were having an emotionally low point, and thus perhaps not able to see everything that is happening in front of them. Two of Jesus’ disciples (that were never mentioned before or again, by the way), Cleopas and friend, were just walking down the road, minding their business, wallowing in the disappointment of Jesus’ crucifixion and the confusing stories of possible appearances of Jesus outside of the tomb and alive. Then this stranger comes up to them, totally interrupts, and nosily asks them what they’re talking about. Perhaps out of frustration or impatience, Cleopas wonders aloud what rock this stranger just crawled out from under and lays out the events of the past few days to him.
This stranger, who we the readers already know is Jesus, sort of responds with a “is that really what you believe? Is that how you’ve interpreted this events? Do you actually see only with such negativity and pessimism?” Way to kick them while they’re down, am I right?
But we know how the story unfolds. Jesus explains to them why these things happened and how they could be interpreted differently, and how instead of feeling down in the dumps about it, hope can be found in the midst of hopelessness, light can be found in the midst of darkness, and life can be found in the midst of death.
And so I wonder if we can, in the same way, interpret this pandemic differently. I don’t know if we could ever say that this pandemic is a positive thing that has happened to the world, but perhaps we could find the life that peeks out in all this death. Perhaps we can recognise how there is light to be seen in the darkness of isolation and slowing down. Perhaps we can see the hope derived in this quarantine and social distancing, that might come in the simplest things that we maybe were too distracted to see before.
Cleopas and his unnamed buddy didn’t see Jesus until he broke bread. They didn’t recognise Jesus until they saw the care and community in sharing. They didn’t realise that they were literally encountering the resurrected Christ, having a holy moment with their risen Saviour, and being granted hope when they assumed hope was lost.
This is my prayer for all of you, that you find the hope in our current situation. I pray that you are reminded of the joy in the Spirit, that it may carry you through until whenever we can meet again. I pray that you see Jesus in all areas of our lives, lifting us up, caring for our needs, and granting us peace.
This week I issued you all another photo challenge to send me pictures of things or areas or people that remind you of what is good in your lives that you may be granted hope. Here are the submissions:
I know this is tough. I know life isn’t as it was for many of us. I know we have lost much. But that doesn’t mean that we have been abandoned. It doesn’t mean that evil has won. It doesn’t mean that we should stay angry. Rather, I encourage you all to see God still present, still acting, still loving us by the power of the Spirit, that we may embrace the embodiment of Christ in our midst, in our homes, and in this community even as we are gathered together online.
My friends, this pandemic has been an awful thing to happen to the world. It has been disruptive, it has been inconvenient, it has been a real thorn in all our sides. But I truly believe that God is with us, God is holding us, and God is guiding us to build something out of this that wasn’t there before. Maybe it is something from this new way of life, maybe it is something from this different way we are caring for each other, maybe it is just a hope and faith that we haven’t felt or had before. Whatever it may be, I believe it will be good, because I believe it will be God.
In this very non-Easter feeling season of Easter, may we interpret our circumstances differently, through a lens of God’s grace and love, that we might have hope and faith in the Spirit of Jesus Christ our risen Saviour and Lord. Thanks be to God. Amen.