Dear Friends in Christ,
It was my turn to facilitate the now cancelled “Soup & Salvation” series on March 18, so I thought I would offer a brief reflection on a passage from the fourth chapter of the book we adopted for Lent: Henri Nouwen’s Following Jesus: Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety.
I was struck by this paragraph:
“The spiritual life is a life in which we are more and more able to be led, to be guided to hard places, to places we would rather not go. For Jesus it was the cross. For Peter it was the cross. For Paul and all the disciples, it meant a lot of suffering. It is not masochism. It is not self-flagellation. It is not being hard on ourselves. It is being in love. It is being so fully and so totally in love that we go to places we would rather not go.”
Living in this time of Coronavirus - as we are called increasingly to live into the proactive caution of social distancing - we are all being led and guided to places we would rather not go. We are all being asked to do things we would rather not do, things that cut against the grain of our desire to be personally present with each other. We are all now called to carry the cross of dying to the taken-for-granted practices of going to work and school, and gathering as a community of faith in our church building to hear God’s Word and be fed at God’s Table.
There’s no question that for all of us - clergy and laity alike - this is painful.
But we are going to this place we would rather not go because we are in love. We are in love with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. And so, out of that self-sacrificial, Christ-like love, we are willing at this time to go to the place of distancing from each other. And we do so in the hope that no one of us gives or receives this virus to another member of our family of faith or anyone else in the larger community.
We cannot say with certainty when we can lay down this cross that the Coronavirus has given us. But as Easter people living in a Good Friday world, we know that the sufferings of the cross lead through the open door of an empty tomb to the joys of abundant and eternal life.
So “be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord” (Psalm 31:24). For this time of trouble shall pass. Our faith shall be stronger. And we can look forward with joy to the day when we gather in person again as one family in Christ.