“I hope things get back to normal soon.” It’s something I’ve heard countless times in the past few weeks, and too, something I’ve thought myself more than once. I miss being able to venture out to browse the music store aisles, or swing a brand-new club at Golf Town. I miss visiting Starbucks and meeting with people for coffee.
Perhaps most of all, I miss being able to go to church, to connect with my church family and see how the week has been, to shake hands, share hugs, and generally greet one another. I miss being able to look my people in the eye as I share from God’s word. I love my church, and I miss our Sunday worship times.
This is especially true this week - the holiest and most significant week in the global Christian Church. This is Holy Week. This Easter weekend traditionally challenges us as we recall the events Good Friday and the cross, and Sunday springs us forward with the joy of an empty tomb and a Resurrected Saviour! I will miss sharing with my church on these sacred days. It’s something that I feel so uncertain about - this surrender of what I feel is my calling - to proclaim a Risen Saviour to my people! To proclaim Hope at a time when we so desperately need to hear it! It’s unsettling and strange not being able to fulfill my priestly duties.
I wonder if this is what the disciples felt like in the days leading up to (and after) that first Easter weekend. Since entering Jerusalem on Sunday, Jesus was acting differently. He spoke differently, as if to indicate that things were about to change. In John 12:23-28, Jesus says to his disciples:
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
What the disciples had known as ‘normal,’ was about to be turned upside down. And all the gospel writers convey it. We sense the disciple’s uncertainty and as we read their words, we recognize that they don’t understanding what’s happening. Thomas quite succinctly even goes as far to say in response to Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5).
But little did the disciples know that what God had planned (as difficult as it was), would result in things being better than they ever were! Listen to these encouraging words from Jesus, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
In the same way friends, I believe in these days, God is calling for the church to take heart, to rise, to serve and follow Him so that God might be glorified. For me, that means strengthening my resolve to live according to God's will - to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love my neighbour.
Loving God comes down to my personal relationship with Him. I build this by choosing to spend time with Him in prayer, by reading and studying my bible, by worshipping Him through song, and by being intentional and holy in what I read, watch, and say.
Loving my neighbour is so important in these days. It means listening to the health authorities and not going out when we don’t need to. It means checking in on our neighbours, on our friends, on members of our church family by phone, or text or Facetime, ensuring that their needs are met, and seeking to provide any support that they may need.
See, like the disciples we live in uncertain days. But I believe we will emerge with a different perspective - one rooted in depth of personal relationship with Christ, one filled with gratitude for the freedoms we know, with a sense of responsibility for the care of one another, and with a renewed understanding of the importance of worshipping God, both personally, and corporately.
This is my hope.