Locked in, shut down, confined to our homes, consuming too much TV while eating comfort food and longing for fresh air and time away from the children. It is enough to make us crazy and finally understand what “cabin fever” is really like. But then again, this is not exactly how its playing out. People go out. They may not go down to the bar or out to eat at a restaurant, but people still go out. They go out for what are deemed essential services, places that stay open amid a pandemic.
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14). Most scholars believe this line used by St. Paul is part of an ancient baptismal hymn. You can imagine it being sung out by a gathering of the people of God as the newly baptized rises from the water. Its poetic words form a call to a new life, a life free from the terrors of the grave, free from futility and aimless wandering. Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
One of the things we can all learn from this pandemic is how insanely connected our world is. An outbreak in Wuhan China can spread with frightening speed around the globe, shutting down whole countries and grinding international commerce to a halt. It is commerce that we need, commerce that plays with the stock market, which plays with our retirement plans, which effects our stress levels, which causes anxiety and fear. So, we stay home, but in staying home we fail to read a book or play card games with the family, no we turn on the internet and read the global news as we text our friends and facetime with our family members. We are bound up in the lives of others in ways never imagined a decade or so ago. We are more connected, more dependent, more aware of a world far outside of ourselves than ever before.
A little framed picture hangs to the right of the door exiting my study which leads into the sanctuary of the church. Most people leaving through that door probably never even notice it, but I do. Though it is small, behind the glass is a simple and eloquent prayer.
We all ought to love the story of Nicodemus and his conversation with Jesus in John chapter 3. It is a fitting text for modern readers of the Word of God and plays well with our own understanding and practice of the faith. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and like all the Pharisees of his time the discussion of Jesus was first and foremost on his mind. He was not a figure anyone was going to ignore.
I feel genuinely sorry for people who do not go to a church that follows the old church calendar. Not that it will necessarily make the preaching better or ensure the handing over of the gifts of God, but as an organizing principle the movement of seasons and times throughout the year gives us something powerful, something beautiful, something to help drive our attention and focus. Could you imagine not having the season of Lent?
I often wonder what sort of stories a biography of St. Peter might contain. This man was incredible; incredibly passionate, incredibly rash and incredibly human. The more I read about him in Scripture, the more I find him to be a similar spirit to me, a comrade of sorts. His life from the moment he was called by Jesus to follow until the end of his days is marked by incredible highs and lows, moments of profound faithfulness and defiant hope and then, almost within the same breath, miserable failure.