12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.
1 Peter 4:12-13
Anyone else feel like you can relate to Peter’s words and you find yourself in the middle of a bit of an ordeal? These past few weeks have been anything but business as usual. We have seen things change on an almost daily basis as we have learned new terms like “social distancing”, as well as having a constant stream of reminders before us on proper hand washing etiquette. Many of the things that have been asked of us are not easy. Not being able to gather at the church for worship or other events, not being able to go to our favorite restaurant, or even stop by a friend’s house for a visit, all of these are things that we miss having the freedom to do. It is as if something strange is happening all around us.
It would be easy to let this surprise ordeal catch us off guard and to remain in the quiet of our own homes isolated away from one another. Or we can make another choice. We can remember that we are never alone. And above and beyond that the One who is with us knows a thing or two about suffering. We are in the home stretch of the Lenten season, normally we would be planning a number of worship services for this time. Times for us to be together, to reflect, to repent, to remember what Christ did for all of us.
Jesus knows the pain of isolation, Jesus knows what it is to suffer. If you find yourself struggling in this time it is OK. You are in good company. Know that you are not alone. Christ has sent the Spirit to empower us and encourage us for just such a time as this. The church doors may be closed for the time being, but Christ’s church is not contained by the four walls of any building. We are Christ’s church, each and every one of us and in these most unusual times we can still be glad, we can shout for joy, we can celebrate God’s glory revealed amongst us and through us. We are a resurrection people, it is the reason we normally have a glorious celebration together on Easter morning. While we may not be able to gather together this year, we can still celebrate the awesome gift that is Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. We can be people who live in the joy and hope that this season brings. I hope that you find that joy in the days ahead. I hope you can find time to focus on Christ. Spend time in the Scriptures, read the Passion story for yourself. Read it with fresh eyes and a heart open to the wonder of God’s love.
Easter is coming! Thanks be to God,