Over the past weeks we’ve been remembering Jesus’ last words to his friends before his cruel and untimely death. We’ve thought about his reminder to them to not be afraid, to not be troubled no matter how bad things seemed, because they were not, and would never be alone. There was always a bigger picture. As they ate a meal together that night, and as they sat there together after they’d eaten, perhaps drowsy from the meal and the wine, they had no idea about the perfect storm that lay just ahead of them, and they were completely unprepared. In the blink of an eye, their whole world would change, every hope and dream they’d had would be crushed, and they’d be left fear-filled and grief stricken. It would be a deeply discombobulating experience – everything they knew, everything they depended on would go out from under them in a milli-second, and the world as they knew it would disintegrate.
Over the past weeks, we’ve been through a similar experience. There has been a lot of fear, and we too have felt discombobulated. Six weeks ago, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, our world changed, isolation from family and friends became a reality, and church as we knew it and our regular Sunday worship practise was taken out from under us. Who would have thought. We have had to find new ways to be church, and to remember that church exists, and has always existed, beyond the church walls. Through the magic of Zoom, we have been together but apart, able to connect with our families, our friends and our various social groups thanks to the modern magic of the internet, and yet unable to be really connected as we would wish.
In the Gospel readings over the past weeks of the Easter season, we have watched as to their shock and surprise, it gradually dawned on the disciples that Jesus was still present, risen from the dead and still walking with them and comforting them. But now, the Feast of the Ascension marks the end of Jesus being present with his disciples in this physical way. He took his disciples outside the city walls, blessed them, and left. It probably started to feel like the Zoom catch-ups; Jesus was present and yet not present, risen, but gone again. We know that the Feast of Pentecost is just around the corner, but as we sit with the disciples today, as they return to their room for prayer, we understand some of what they would have been feeling.
I really like this poem by the Irish poet John O’Donohue:
This is the time to be slow,
lie low to the wall
until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
the wire brush of doubt
scrape from your heart
all sense of yourself
and your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
time will come good;
and you will find your feet
again on fresh pastures of promise
where the air will be kind
and blushed with beginning
In peace, Mother Lynda