This morning, there are three parts to my reflection. The first is based on the scripture narratives of today, and the overarching narratives of our faith life. The second part is comprised of words of hope, prayer and lament for you. The third part is an audio clip from some of our children here at St. Matthews.
The Holy Spirit calls us together as the people of God, where ever we find ourselves, however we find ourselves. The spirit moves beyond space and time to gather us as one body throughout the world, gathering even those who have gone before us.
It’s been a tough three weeks, hasn’t it? How are you holding up? Most people I’ve connected with are mentioning a silver lining which I can see too. In this there is hope. But the silver lining gets tarnished at times.
And yet, we are children of God who live by faith, embark on a holy week that finds us virtual and worshiping perhaps a little more like the early church in our homes and with our families.
This very journey on which Jesus and the first century followers embark from parade to cross to empty tomb seems a little more vivid to us this year. At first glance, it appears that we missed the parade on crowded aisles and streets, waving our branches, laying our cloaks, waiting for our eyes to behold, the one riding upon a donkey. The parade as we know it has been cancelled. Many churches across the world have closed their physical doors. They are locked tight with signs stating this form of in-person connectedness is not possible. The faithful are locked out of the building but friends the good news is:
This is no barrier for God or the people of God.
God is still at work in you, in us and in the world around.
While the risks around have awakened anxiety, Jesus rides on into the holy city bidding us to enter the parade, albeit from home. Reluctantly, with weary hearts we join.
We, like the disciples, do not know how the world and our lives will be re-formed once this trial ends. Many say, nothing will be the same after this. Many are still coming to grips with the long road on which we tred. Others have already faced tremendous loss and deep grief, made more difficult with the separation.
This Sunday of passion and palms presents us with a paradox that is even more palpable this year. We find ourselves in this in-between time. As if palm Sunday has already happened. But it hasn’t and it’s important to pause and give it its rightful place. Jesus bids us to join the parade of hope.
We live in hope, because hope does not disappoint. The parade will lead to Good Friday, yet we know the parade will lead beyond Good Friday to the empty tomb and our risen Lord, where once again we will say, Alleluia.
And so today, on this Palm Sunday marked by Covid-19 we do not succumb to fear or hopelessness. May our palms, or branches or whatever you have chosen to use at home be a reminder of the hope God has for you and for the world. The hope God places in our hearts and unites by the spirit. A hope that can be a tangible presence in the world around us. Brothers and sisters, let’s spread hope.
A Message for You
Let me share with you some of the hope that is in my heart for you.
Your energy gives us life. Once upon a time, we were just like you. And a little bit of that remains in us. Thankfully, you enliven that in us. These days you are learning a lot about resiliency. That’s a big word isn’t it? Do you know what it means? It means rising out if difficult situations. It means finding new ways to deal with a problem. It means to keep on being awesome even when there are challenges. Why? God needs your awesomeness and so do we. Thank you lovely children for sharing your voices of hope with us. We will listen to you soon.
Dear working parents,
There is beauty and challenge in our current situation. This is a time to recalibrate and run into the future with greater conviction then before. Yet, the struggle is real. We are juggling the many hats of parenting, educating and working. Our children pop into our zoom meetings. Commotion happens when we are on the phone. Our work may be eaten by the dog. Hang in there. Be gentle with yourself and with your whole family. Dance and dance some more. Pray and pray some more. Make melody to the Lord.
It’s likely you’ve never experienced something like this in your lifetime, just as we haven’t. Even though this might be new to you too, we covet your wisdom. Your life’s joys and struggles have given you a character and wisdom that will help the younger generations through this time. Share your grittiness. Share your faith. Share your life story. Share your gentleness and the lessons you’ve learned along the way. We want to hear. Thank you for lighting our lives with your glorious grey crowns or whatever colour crown you wear.
Dear front line workers, (hospital workers, grocery store, transport drivers)
Most of us our doing our part to stay safe and reduce risks for you, staying home and being responsible while you work on the front lines. We are grateful. For those who work in grocery, you likely hear a lot as people checkout. For those in health care, you trained for your professions likely not expecting anything like this to ever happen. And yet here we are. We hope you get the supplies you need to be safe. We pray for the safety of you and your families.
Dear nursing home staff, residents and families with loved ones in residence,
I lament for your current situation right now, for the separation from your loved ones and the risk. Some of you might be thinking about getting your loves ones home. For most of you, this is not possible. The care needs of your loved ones are far beyond what you can handle. May you find moments of connection with your loved ones through memories or other creative ways to stay in touch. Staff, it sounds like you deserve a raise. We pray for your safety and that of your families.
Dear friends who are grieving,
It has been suggested that the discomfort we are all feeling right now is grief. In a short period of time our normal ways of being in the world have been drastically altered. Even if some changes are welcomed, there still is a process of coming to terms with all the upheaval and separation. Grief for some of you is more profound. For those of you who have lost loved ones during this time, we lament with you, we hope and trust in the resurrection to life eternal.
Dear friends who live with violence,
I don’t know what is the most helpful thing to say to you. Shelters are likely overwhelmed but there is help available, however, it’s likely even more stretched then before. I am relieve the government has just allocated additional funding. But hear this, believe this and remember this so that you may find your way to safety. You do not deserve this. You deserve a life free of violence. Nothing you have done has caused the violence you are experiencing. You, my friend, are loved. You my friend are scared. You my friend are worth so much. May God’s love for you give you the courage and protection to get out of harms way.
You are about to embark further into uncharted ground with e-learning. A place that you likely didn’t want to go in the first place. We’ll all need some patience in learning how to do this together. But know this, our kids will take comfort in having another supportive person in their lives. The learning outcomes, maybe they aren’t as important as the the relationship right now. We are all learning many lessons these days. The lessons that help all to get through these challenging times and grow in kindness and compassion as a community will be the ones that stick. A little humour is good too. Kids and adults need to be silly sometimes.
Dear friends who hungry,
My heart hurted for you, even before this Covid crisis. Our world has so much and yet you do not have enough. There should be a solution to eliminate hunger and yet we fail. Many of your regular places to go for meals have been shut down for safety. Even St. Matthews Out of the Cold Programme has been suspended temporarily. I am relieved to hear of food being offered in other ways such as Nutrition for Learning, Ray of Hope, St. John’s Kitchen or through people involved in Caremongers KW.
Continue to enlighten us with your discoveries. They give us hope. We need you. A vaccine would be great. Vaccines have drastically decreases this type of thing happening in the world for many years now. For this we are grateful.
Dear friends who are facing financial instability,
I am grateful the government has stepped up. No doubt this too falls short. Hang in there. We will get through this.
Dear people of faith,
Take heart. God is with you. Thank you for helping your neighbours get groceries or prescriptions. Thank you for sewing gowns, masks and caps. Thank you for checking in on people by phone or FaceTime or Skype or zoom. Thank you for praying. Thank you for remaining physically distant even if this means being apart from family members. Thank you for sharing your faith, your love, your life, your generous spirit, and your strong mind. May our God of grace and mercy be your companion throughout this journey.
We know, you did not cause this virus. You do not want to see us suffer. You aren’t that type of God. Some people whose theology has run amuck might want us to believe this but that is certainly not the case.
Instead, we are assured, you are with us during these times, in times of joy and sorrow. Your steadfast love is ever present. You give us courage amidst the storm and a peace which surpasses all understanding. Most importantly, because of your life, death and resurrection, we are able to walk through the storms with renewed hope in the present and for the future. We are reminded that even in the valley our cup runs over and that life in you is abundant. Inspire in us ways to join your parade of hope for the world. Brothers and sisters, let’s spread hope.
The Children’s Voices
Now the children want to spread some hope to you. During the week, the children and parents recorded their voices at home.
The children range from 1 year old to teenagers.
Thank you Lauren, Spencer, Kate, Lauren, Delaney, Mateo, Max, Mikala, Gabrielle, James and Elise for you help. Your voices bring me joy.
Let’s listen to our littlest voices of hope.