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Celebrating Resurrection in Isolation

18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 

~ John 20: 18-20

I've always liked John's version of the Easter story for the honesty of verse 19. In verse 18, Mary announces that Jesus is risen. She does her part to deliver the Easter news. But verse 19 gives the honest reaction of the disciples. They are locked in the upper room. Mary gives them the good news. And their reaction is to lock the doors and stay put.

As much as Jesus did to try and prepare the disciples for what was coming, they still were not ready. It still took them awhile to figure out what to do in the new world where Jesus has risen from the tomb. If you read further in this chapter, in verse 26 it is noted that a week has passed and the disciples are still locked in that upper room. Still trying to process what just happened. 

I feel like we are in a similar position these days. Life has altered, but we are not really sure how to move forward from here. In our case we are expected to stay inside our rooms, yet our doors are not locked. We are able to interact and connect with phone, emails, and internet. Still, we sit and wonder how to move forward from here. What will it look like to reopen? How will we rebuild? What have we learned about ourselves and our society in our experience that we'll hold on to? How will we be changed?

When we went into this shut down a month ago, I thought we might be back together for Easter, and that we would definitely be together by Pentecost. Now, I wonder how far into the summer it will be before we can hold in person worship again. Yet, Easter still came. We still celebrated Christ's resurrection. We are still reminded of the renewal of the earth all around us. Even when the sun is shining through snow flurries. I am reminded that the world is still active. God's creative presence is still flowing among us. 

Our theme in Lent was Connecting in the Wilderness. We considered how we encounter God in times of grief and separation, and times when we feel distant and alone. (Yes, that was the planned theme back before Covid-19 had even entered the US.) For the Easter season, our theme will be Celebrating Resurrection. I plan to aim these devotion emails, and our worship at the questions about how we move forward from here. That will involve some time in our own "locked rooms." Both because the well being of ourselves and our neighbors requires us to stay put, and because we need the time for reflection and discernment before we start to step out into something new. 

If you have a topic or thought you would particularly like to explore please let me know. In the meantime, I pray that you all may continue to feel the joy of God's creative presence in this resurrection season. 

Pastor Kathleen
First Presbyterian Church
Reflection on the Meaning of Church

Karl Vaters wrote a blog post, If “We Don’t Go To Church, We Are The Church” Is True, Why Do I Miss Going So Much?, which I found particularly helpful in this time. It is a very short, poetic read on how much he misses being together with the church community. I hope that you will also enjoy his words. 

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