Staying home is now our new normal. And going to church at home has become the way we belong to the Body of Christ.
The Revd Dr Colleen O'Reilly (Thursday 16 April)
Staying home is now our new normal. And going to church at home has become the way we belong to the Body of Christ. One of my friends said she rather enjoyed the Easter Vigil in her bedroom slippers!
Life as we have known it is severely disrupted, and we are all coping as best we can. We had plans to go here or there. We had plans to see people, concerts and plays. We were not expecting to value anew the lives of family and friends as we do now that we are all at risk of a virus we cannot see. We did not expect to be vulnerable ourselves to an illness never before known.
It seems to me the greatest disruption of all was the raising of Jesus. We can assume the disciples believed in the resurrection of the dead and looked forward to it ‘on the last day’. Martha of Bethany hoped this for her dead brother Lazarus. So, when the first day of the week turned out to be a ‘last day’ the disciples’ expectations were challenged, though all was not yet clear. When the women found the tomb empty and were told to tell the others, they had plans to do so. The two on the road to Emmaus planned to go home. The Galilean disciples planned to go fishing.
The risen Christ broke into all these plans with his presence. Christ’s unexpected presence has the potential to break more fully upon us than anything we plan to make it happen. Perhaps the zooming, the live streaming and pre-recording of services of Holy Week and Easter will be the disruption to our gatherings that have enabled a presence unlike that experienced before.
The anecdotal evidence is that many people, including some who would hesitate to push open the church door, experienced new depths and insights into the meaning of resurrection this year. In the disruption to familiar patterns and plans, God’s love breaks upon us to lead us by another way.
Who knew you could greet the risen One in slippers? Who knew that our collective absence from congregations would be a powerful form of presence to one another, and above all to the risen Christ in whose transformed humanity is found, not merely the disruption of our plans, but the irruption of God’s plans and purposes within us and within our world.