This message was given during the virtual Good Friday service held by Beacon Hill Friends House on April 10, 2020.
Tonight is a night filled with sorrow and despair. I want to acknowledge that we are living amid something that the world has not seen in over a century. Not far from where we each sit; doctors and nurses are fighting a deadly pandemic with a lack of resources. Our neighbors are sitting alone, some of who haven’t had any physical human touch in weeks. We all do not know what is next. We are living in uncertain times. As a parent, I was not prepared to explain to my 3-year-old what a pandemic is or why we can’t take her to her preschool to see her friends.
This night sounds very much like the night 2000 years ago we just heard about in the Scripture readings. That night the followers of Jesus, like we are, were going through a difficult and dark night. They just saw their leader arrested and then crucified as the crowd looked on. They were filled with the same sorrow and despair that we are feeling now. Jesus resisted the Empire and the Empire killed him, like a common criminal. He gave His followers hope of a new way of living, a new way of resisting and the Empire took out that hope on that lonely cross.
Tonight, we are sitting in our sorrow and despair about our situation, like the women did that night. We sit in the sorrow and despair about Jesus’ crucifixion; sorrow and despair about the coronavirus. This pandemic has disrupted the world, the world we have known. It is killing the most vulnerable in our community, while the Empire we currently live in sit by and point fingers, offering lip service when we need action and leadership.
Sorry, I do not have any magic words to relieve this pain, no good news to preach tonight. All I can do with my words tonight is to witness to Jesus’ ministry before the crucifixion. In thinking about His ministry during this time of sorrow and despair, we need to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. Are we loving God during this moment? Are we loving our neighbors during this moment? Are we loving ourselves during this moment?
This is a hard moment. We don’t know what will become of the world once this is over. Will we ever feel safe in a crowd again? Will this affect how we interact with each other in person? I miss physical touch with people who aren’t my wife and daughter. I miss hugging friends. What do you miss? What do you fear?
All that we can do, all we need to do tonight is just wait, just believe that we have put our trust in a leader that taught us to love while living in an Empire. This is not easy to do today as it was 2000 years ago. We live in a ruthless Empire that treats the most vulnerable as just stepping stones for the rich to get richer. Their bodies are used as a commodity in trade and war.
I don’t have any advice about waiting. I am horrible at waiting. Some say patience is a virtue and it is definitely a virtue I do not possess. I want things to happen now, not later. I want to see friends, I want to see the youth I work with, I want to be back in my office, my routine. I want Jesus to be risen, his disabled body to be seen, bearing the wounds. I want the Empire to know that His love cannot be defeated by anyone or anything. I want the Kingdom of God on Earth here and now. I am tired of waiting; I want all of this to be done now.
But alas this is the struggle of being a person of faith in the face of a ruthless Empire in the midst of a pandemic. The Light of Easter Sunday seems so far away. So tonight, we are waiting, we are leaning into this time of uncertainties with the belief that this is not the end. That within our sorrow, there exists some hope that things will be different. They may not change tonight or tomorrow, but they will someday. Maybe that is hope but sometimes it just seems like a foolish delusion
Right now, we just have to wait, sometimes all we can do is cry and wait. That in itself is an act of worship, an act of resistance against the Empire, that this is not the end. Because it is not