“Where I am going you can not come.” (John 13:36)
Jesus’ words, as written in the Gospel of John, have been sitting in me since Wednesday of Holy Week. They seemed to have taken on new meaning because of Covid-19. Listening to these words read over St. Paul’s Facebook Live service, on that Holy Wednesday, the reality hit home. The reality that we would not be journeying together, body beside body, through Good Friday to Easter Sunday. During the Easter season, we long to visit with our church community, our friends, and our families. We long to share the joy of the Resurrection with those around us. And, three weeks later, we now know that we won’t be together again until after Pentecost. We have been told that the best way to love one another, during these days, is to stay at home.
This feels wrong when the way we often show our love for one another is to be present. To be present during difficult times, celebratory times, and times of mourning and grieving. And more so, being present to one another is the very way that Christ has asked us to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, release the prisoners, and lift high the lowly. But in these days, we have been asked to stay at home. And so where Jesus is going, we can not come. But where is Jesus going? In these days, Jesus is entering into the hospital rooms, the care homes, the prisons. Jesus is also standing with those who grieve. He is standing with those who have delivered new life into this world. He is standing with those whose birthdays have come around again. And He is walking beside those who must walk alone. We feel sad, we feel angry, we feel anxious, and we feel disheartened. We long for freedom and yet Christ has made it clear that where He is going we cannot come.
We, as a whole community, have been asked to stay at home. But some, with the essential gifts and talents and skills and responsibility have been called to be the frontline at this very specific time. Where Christ is going we cannot come or at least, it seems, where some of us can’t go. And we acknowledge those who have been asked to go out, but long for the security of being able to stay at home The mandate to stay at home is not only for our protection but for the protection of others. And maybe, through God’s perspective, we have been asked to stay home because it is not our time to go out. Maybe God is preparing us for the “frontline” work that we have been called to do. Maybe God is strengthening us for the weakness in which we have been called to serve. Maybe God is just waiting for us to ask to be sent. And maybe we are missing something. And I hope and I pray that it is bigger, that God is bigger, than Covid-19. We long for the days to return to normal but what might we lose when that day comes?
When things return to normal, will we even remember to ask where Christ is going? Will we even notice that you are going or that you have gone? And maybe where Christ is going is far beyond the walls of the buildings and the homes that we can’t presently enter. We long for our Covid non-going days to be over, but Jesus’ going has really just begun. Where Jesus is going, no, we cannot come. And because of where Christ is going, we have been given the call to keep going too. To keep our eyes open, for how Jesus is entering into our homes. To keep our ears open, for how Jesus is speaking into our lives. And to keep our hearts open for how we can continue to be present to one another, even while we are apart. And so, my friends, I pray that we will focus not on where we cannot go, but on that Christ is here. May we know the entering of Jesus into our every moment. And may we know the offering of Jesus, in every moment, to those who are in need. Amen.