During this time of social distancing you may wish to use this scripture meditation for an e-conference small group or alone as a personal devotion. Give yourself the time to process the changes you are facing and the care you require.
The COVID-19 tracker has become a prayer list. Behind each number is a person, a story, a community, a leader who did or did not care. There is always death, but these deaths seem out of time somehow. For most of us we are waiting…complacent, anxious, irritated. We imagine the Palm Sunday crowd and whisper into their shouts, “Hosanna!” “Save us!” So much turmoil and confusion in the crowd as they watched yet another untimely death…as they watched love sacrificed for others…as they watched love present to sufferers…as they watched love strong in its vulnerability…as they watched love raised up.
Beginning of the meeting
Read the reflection above. This coming Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday. Because of the world response to COVID-19 it well be a very different and strange experience from previous years. As we enter into our Christian story let us acknowledge the emotional highs and lows of this time: turmoil and peace, separation and connection, selfishness and selflessness, anxiety and love. Bring your grief and confusion to God in prayer. Open yourself up to the love of Jesus as you read or hear the following passage.
Matthew 21:1-11 New Revised Standard Version
21 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ 4 This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
5 ‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ 11 The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’
If you are in an e-conference, reflect on each question for a few moments in silence, then invite discussion. Help the group identify common themes and issues. If you are alone, you may wish to record your reflections in a journal. You may wish to share your thoughts, questions and insights in the “reply” space below.
- List the many emotions you are feeling right now.
- “How is it with your soul?” Take a moment and check in with yourself spiritually and describe the state of your soul.
- As you reflect on the Palm and Passion story, recall the many feelings that surface in it. How are the crowd’s feelings like your own? How is Jesus’ experience like your own?
Invite people into a time of silence (about 3-5 minutes). Let them know the duration of the silence. Begin by asking them to be attentive to their breathing. Ask them to slow their breathing and, with each breath, relax the muscles of their body, especially around their shoulders and face. Ask them to imagine God’s presence in the space. With each breath ask them to image God’s healing love coming into their body, restoring them. With each exhale, ask them to imagine letting out anxiety, fear and confusion. Ensure the people that tears and weeping are God’s gifts of healing love. End the time of silence with the prayer below.
God of the one and God of the whole,
be with those who are working from home today,
those whose work keeps them from home and those who will not be able to work this day.
Be with those who won’t go beyond the front porch,
and those who stay on the front line.
Be with those who must choose between
doing a job they know they can do
and being the parent only they can be.
May we each in our private worry
hear your universal call
to come, lay down heavy burdens,
and find a welcome rest.
And then with our burdens lightened,
may we help to hold the whole.
Amen. Adapted from the Prayers for Community in a Time of Pandemic, Corrymeela
We are here together and we can do this because Christ dwells within us.