I sit in the sanctuary of our church as I write this. It is quiet and still here, room for God to speak and be heard. I come in here often, just to listen and be still. Sometimes I hear your voices and see your faces and I remember when we were all together, and look forward to the day when we can be together again. I think of you especially this week and wonder how Holy Week will be for us as we gather together separately.
To sit in this room today makes me consider how privileged and different is my position than the people who lived through the first Holy Week. No one threatens me for being here, yet Jesus and his apostles had to meet secretly as the week drew to a close. We will celebrate the institution of the Lord’s Supper this Thursday, but Jesus’ first Eucharist with his disciples was hidden in an upper room, away from prying eyes. His agony and prayer in Gethsemane was interrupted by betrayal and followed swiftly by trial and death.
While the circumstances today are vastly different, there are a few things that strike me as eerily prescient. How many of us have ever avoided pubic worship as we will this week? How often have we celebrated our faith behind locked doors? When has distance from friends in Christ been a matter of life and death?
My mind has wandered to like times in history, but has settled firmly on the first two centuries of our existence. We know what it is like to worship at home with few around us because this is how our people started. There are billions of Christians now on this planet. What was it like to share faith with only a few dozen people? In our status of being together separately we are more like our spiritual ancestors in the first century than we have ever known before in our lives.
So live in this moment. Hear the ancient story of God working through locked doors, of endless rejection and death on a cross, of life left empty from an invisible power that everyone knows is stronger than the weak witness of Jesus and a handful of followers. Live in this moment because people like us have been through things like this before. Live with tears and pain and fear. But open your hands and your hearts to receive the good news that is coming: Death is not the last word. The end is only a beginning. Life, the life God stirs in us, will not come to an end. Easter is near. Hold on. Just a little while longer. The dawn soon breaks.