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.
“You will be scattered, each one to their own home…”. One of the painful themes of the Holy Week story is how the followers were thrown apart for their safety. And now we too find our homes have become our haven. Well, at least for those of us who have a home or have a safe home. But it is when we are communal that we make our story, that the story makes sense. And although the crock pot is stewing, the sun is streaming in, no one is coughing, and online conferences await, they belie the same tragic truth: frightening disruption is in process and we are apart. Holy Saturday is an agonizing standstill of alone-ness. Defiantly, Jesus declares: “Yet I am not alone!” You are not alone. We are never alone. We are in this no-space of Holy Saturday waiting. Who waits with you?
Beginning of the meeting
Read the reflection above. This is Holy Week. Because of the world response to COVID-19 it will be a very different and strange experience from previous years. As we enter into the heart of 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.
John 16: 29-33
His disciples said, “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
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.
- There are many examples of Jesus feeling deeply and passionately, and anticipating the feelings of his followers. We follow his example, so take a moment to become more aware of your feelings. Write down and then share the emotions you are feeling right now. Are they changing? Are they different from the previous week?
- There is grief this week for Christians. Can you name that grief for yourself?
- What does Jesus mean when he says he is not alone?
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. Begin 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 whole body. With each exhale, ask them to imagine letting go of the 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.
Show the Work of the People video: Praise Song for the Pandemic – written and read by Christine Valters Paintner, from Abbey of the Arts and music by Giants & Pilgrims.
We are here together and we can do this because Christ dwells within us.