See You on The Other Side of Easter
Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
Usually on Tuesday during Holy Week, clergy gather to pray and renew their ordination vows as time for renewal in advance of the demands of preaching and leading worship through the week. Most importantly it is a space to prepare for the emotional, spiritual unfolding of the journey to the cross. As we leave our Tuesday gathering, clergy sometimes say "see you on the other side of Easter." It's a phrase that gives me great comfort knowing that I travel with others to the darkness of the cross and the joy of the empty tomb. There is a certainty in this language that Easter will come, even though the timing might not be based on the calendar or a particular Sunday celebration.
I've come to consider that phrase in light of the pandemic. How wonderful it would be if we could say "see you on the other side of the pandemic," as if we will wake up one day and all will be the same like just a few months ago. Yet just like the Easter resurrection is not a date on the calendar, this pandemic will not just disappear on a date announced by leaders or the media. Rather our lives have been and will be radically changed as we live with a pandemic that is the new normal for at least the foreseeable future. With that in new reality, we at St. Paul's have begun thinking about how we will continue to grow in our love of Jesus and in community, while serving others. Our life of being physically present to each other for worship and programs will be vastly different when we do gather again. Our service to the world in need will also be more pressing than ever, just in different ways. Those practical aspects of our shared life we can figure out together and more details will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead. However our emotional and spiritual well being has been shaken to its core, so that the true "other side of the pandemic" may be far away on a distant path. It is in offering our prayers and petitions to God during those moments of being shaken that we know that our path is lit by God even if the road ahead seems long and scary.
And while I wish I could say with certainty that there is a month or time to "see you on the other side of the pandemic," I do know with utmost uncertainty that this side of Easter does live in our hearts in the new creation and in eternal rest. This pandemic will run its course and disappear, changing us and those we love forever. Yet the love of God in the Easter promise has not and will never disappear. Welcome to this side of Easter! May you dwell there in your hearts and minds with peace.
With Easter joy,