Worshipping together at a good distance – 5 April

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5 April 2020

God of hills and valleys,
the newsreader said we’ll see a peak in mid–April,
just as we are set to celebrate resurrection.
We enter this shadowy valley with verses half–remembered
about your rod and your staff,
and our not fearing.
May the memory of your goodness follow us in these days;
may your presence with us now provide a constant comfort;
and may this darkened valley light up
with the dawn of an Easter
not bound by any chart
or calendar.
© The Corrymeela Community

Cut out your paper feet
and decorate them.
Stick them up somewhere you will see them.
Each time you see them,
remember that you are walking
in the way of Jesus.

Matthew 21.1-11

I suspect that many of us have been listening, sometimes against our better judgement, to more current affairs updates and live interviews than usual in recent weeks. And although much of what we hear is on a repetitive loop, sometimes the things people say can still surprise us.

Photo by
Mona Eendra
Licenced under CCO.

Speaking for myself, the words of one particularly engaging journalist are still echoing in my memory. As the latest round of social restrictions were being introduced, I heard him comment, with some genuine amazement, that the levels ofsolidarity we are being asked to embrace might seem alien to many of us.

Difficult, yes. But alien? Perhaps not, if we are listening. This week is Palm Sunday, when we hear again the story of Jesus’ final entry into the city of Jerusalem. When, in acarefully planned parody of an emperor’s triumphant victory parade, the scrambling crowds around Jesus throw down a makeshift red carpet of branches and hastily removed clothing. When they shout: Hosanna!

Which is not, in spite of appearances, a simple shout of praise. It means: Save us. Rescue us. We are all vulnerable here.We are all vulnerable here. That’s the level of solidarity which is ours already. And if this Jesus of Nazareth, sitting on the back of a donkey, is indeed making a triumphal entry, the triumph, now,is that he is staying the course.

We are all vulnerable here. And to the One who comes in the name of the Lord, this level of solidarity is not alien, but is knitted into his bones.

No wonder the whole city of Jerusalem literally earthquakes.As the whole creation will soon shudderand tilt at Jesus’death. And as the earth’s bedrock willfinally and irrevocably shift once again, early in the morning, on the first day of the week, in order to send a stone rollingaway intothe darkness.

For Holy Week is itself a whole series of tremors, a glimpseof God’s solidarity with us which so tiltsthe ground beneathour feet, every time, that we are bound to lose our balance. And yet it’sright here, in thisunsteady darkness, that the Church is born. And it is where we learn that there is finally no level of solidarity which is alien to us. We are all vulnerable here.

So, this is Holy Week, in a time of Coronavirus. This level of darkness, this level of disorientation. We shout: Hosanna! We are all vulnerable here. But we are here. And today Palm Sunday gathers usup into the moving crowd, and turns our faces to the One who stays the course for our sake.

Hosanna! Yes, Lord, we are vulnerable here. But we are not alien to one another, now, any more than our brave and troubled humanity is alien to you.

Hosanna! And to God alone be the glory.

Reflection © Christ Church, Sandymount