“Lo, I am with you, Jesus has spoken.
This is Christ’s promise, this is Christ’s sign:
when the church gathers, when bread is broken,
there Christ is with us in bread and wine.”
(Susan Palo Cherwien,
Day of Arising, ELW #374)
As we prepare for the coming days of worship and reflection on the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, I think back to this time two years ago, when we were just getting used to the pandemic and worshipping remotely. I recall wondering when we would be able to celebrate Easter and thinking that, whenever we could resume our in-person worship gatherings, it would be a time of great celebration. It’s now been over two years, and we are finally able to consider worshiping in a way that feels somewhat normal, with flowers and choirs and breakfasts and all the things that make these celebrations full and rich.
I am grateful. Grateful for all those who have worked so hard these past two years to create and produce alternative worship experiences, outdoors and online; grateful for all those who are organizing and preparing and leading worship this Holy Week as they seek to create opportunities for reconnecting and remembering the rituals and rhythms of our life together; grateful for the chance to taste and see and smell and feel the presence of Jesus, made real in song and sermon and bread and wine.
And I am hopeful. Hopeful that we can continue to follow wherever Jesus leads us, and that as we remember the life-changing power of the resurrection, we will be led to invite others to join us in fragile, imperfect, yet powerful communities of faith and life and love. Being church together is a precious gift, and I pray that these past two years of challenge and separation have deepened our appreciation for the amazing gift of our life together. Christ is risen! New life is ours! Let’s go tell the world; amen.
– Bishop Paul Erickson