Happy Easter! Marcia McMullin was scheduled to give a day retreat around the theme of centering prayer last Saturday. In addition to presenting retreats, Marcia is a nurse and the Manager of Breast Health Services at LifeBridge Health. We think of those healthcare professionals who are helping those in need during the pandemic and pray for their safety and their spirits. On a day when many of us would be congregating in churches to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, instead let’s read this prayerfully in community together.
Easter Sunday and Church Isn’t Open
Just some thoughts about the global pandemic sweeping through our country since mid-March, 2020. Unprecedented, we have never experienced anything like this in our lifetime. I’m not really suffering personally, but my heart breaks for all that is going on around me. New York is the epicenter of this currently—thousands are contracting this virus and hundreds are dying daily. I’m watching my nursing profession on the front line, risking their lives for their patients. I have never been so proud to be a nurse. Doctors and other health care professionals are risking it all. Heroes and angels, fighting a devil we cannot see. The only thing we can do is practice social distancing, by staying at home and protecting the common good of humanity. And pray.
It’s interesting for me to watch how the clergy, priests and pastors are handling this time when churches are closed and people are sheltered in their homes. It is especially interesting to watch the preachers that love to preach, as they really don’t know what to do with themselves—they are so accustomed to the energy and feedback from their congregations as they teach and preach. Now it’s an audience of one for them. And where is God in that audience of one? In the era of mega-churches and bands that play multiple musical instruments, have stages with special light affects and other props that can often feel like a show, or grand performances, we now find empty churches. As we approached Holy Week, how did we make it a holy week? One recommendation I saw on Facebook was to put a palm branch on our front door. Another is to gather for family calls via social media. Stay connected but socially distant with those we love. Spend time in nature, watch the birds. Pray for each other. Pray for our communities, our country and our world, and we can be assured He will be among us.
It is now Easter Sunday and churches are not open. And the resurrection still came. The first resurrection happened during similar times, while many were in hiding and the church was hunkered down. Christians were afraid. Jesus came to the women and to his friends. So, he will come again to us. Jesus does not need packed churches. He does not need concerts. He does not need awesome preaching. He does not need our style of worship. Maybe this Easter can be like the first resurrection story. Maybe Jesus will come to us in our homes, with our families, or even hunkered down by ourselves. Maybe he will come in the silence, in the quiet Easter morning, in the midst of suffering, isolation, sickness, and service.
This will be a historical Easter to remember. A time to experience the hidden Lord, let’s not miss Him. Let’s not be too distracted to recognize Him coming. Through Centering Prayer, let us present ourselves in stillness and awareness, waiting in anticipation for the resurrection to once again save us by this profound love that never leaves us and never abandons us.