Sunday, April 5, 2020
Waiting like the disciples
The Rev. Mark D. Wilkinson, Rector
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Palm Sunday 2020
What is going on? There is no end in sight for what is happening to us. Our world is changed forever. These are all things I have heard people say or thought myself over the past couple of weeks. We are in a very different, many have said a surreal place. Then Thursday afternoon sitting out back reading a commentary about what the last week, the trial of Jesus and his crucifixion was like a thought just jumped off the page at me.
We may very well be in a similar place spiritually and psychologically as the disciples were on what we now call Good Friday. In the church world we call this a liminal space. This is a space where time seems to be different, the world is radically changed and there is a transition of some sort occurring. Now let me describe what I envision was going on that original Good Friday and see if this makes sense.
Palm Sunday the day we celebrate life is good!!! Jesus enters Jerusalem to shouts of Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Monday Jesus goes into a rage and turns over the tables in the temple and incurs the wrath of the temple leadership. They sense that trouble is coming close. They gather during the week to continue to hear Jesus teach at the temple, but the storm clouds continue to gather but none of them sees what is about to happen. Then the storm breaks, Judas betrays Jesus he is arrested and the disciples scatter and hide. Except Peter who goes to see what is happening but then even he denies knowing Jesus just as Jesus told him he would do. He is devasted and disappears. The trial the procession to the cross on Golgotha just outside the city gates, the nails though his feet and wrists and those final hours of agony. Jesus dies, the temple curtain is torn, the dead come out of their graves, it is black as night.
Jesus is put in his tomb and the disciples gather in the upper room, look at each other and say, “What just happened? More important what do we do? We don’t know how to function now that Jesus is gone. What’s going to happen, will we die as well at the hands of the Romans? They don’t see an end nor do they have a clue how it will end.
I don’t know about you, but that sure is the way I am feeling right now. How will this end? What are we to do? How do we continue? I don’t see a clear path. Take a moment and think about which if any of these feelings or question speak to you.
While I have been reading and looking at these scriptures all week, I have been reading Fr. Richard Rohr’s meditations. On Thursday I put them altogether into a single document and re-read them.
Fr. Rohr is taking a different look at what is happening in our world today and is framing what is going on in terms of a rite of initiation. I first encountered his work in that light in a book he wrote about the need for initiation rites for men back in the early 90s. He has long felt that we have lost something the ancients had and many societies have today. Initiation rites that prepared boys and girls to become adults. To set aside childish things as Paul says and basically to grow up to look at the world differently. His point is that as a society we are being challenged to look at our world and how we relate to it.
This makes sense and I have heard this from many of you. This is a moment in our lives like 9/11, Harvey and other life changing events that will be markers and points of change in our lives, just as the crucifixion and resurrection changed the world 2000 years ago. But we are in the midst of it, we are in the upper room waiting for what is to come and we do not know what it will be.
In his introduction to this two week series he said this is the tough week, the week we face some difficult facts. The hope he says comes in what he will write next week. So he left me in the tomb, in the locked upper room until he starts the next series today. But I want us to stay in that space for a bit. To reflect and take stock of what we might learn.
Brenee Brown in the books of hers that I am reading for a leadership workshop speaks of the importance of paying attention to our feelings, write them down and examine for a moment how they affect us and our actions. I believe it would be very healthy for all of us to take some time each day to pay attention to what we are feeling and why we are feeling these emotions. What is our body and our mind and very possibly God trying to show us.
Those in power in the time of Jesus missed a chance for a change, a turn to love and compassion. I think we have a chance to change to a way of more love and compassion.
One thing that has struck me time and time again is this view of the world as one of scarcity. You can joke about toilet paper and other shortages, but why are those happening? Because people in a panic were afraid there would not be enough for all and they hoarded these supplies or bought them up to make a profit in reselling. That of course resulted in the shortages. Brenee writes that the opposite of scarcity is enough. Not an excess but enough. What would a world look like where each of us is happy with enough? Can you be satisfied with enough?
That is just one example that came to my mind as I sat in my upper room this week (literally, my home office is on the second floor.) So what is Lent for if it isn’t about examining how we live? Wondering and reflecting on our lives and yes our sins and we all have plenty of those.
The disciples didn’t know about Easter. We read the story and know that it is going to end up with a miracle and a change the disciples could not imagine. We are in a place where we do not know how this will end. I asked at the beginning of Lent, what is it that may need to die in you. So I ask you to walk through this week, join me for Daily Morning Prayer, Maundy Thursday at either 6 with Julia or 7 for the formal service. Join me for Stations of the Cross at noon on Good Friday from Christ the King and the powerful Good Friday service at 3:00, the hour when Jesus died. Do not be in a rush to run to Easter, but stay in this liminal time, this in between time. Sit with the disciples in the upper room and ask God, what do you want me to learn from this week, this situation?
This very well could be the most powerful Holy Week of your life. Make the most of it.