Then Jesus said to them,
“Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
When he had said this,
he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.”
For me, the above stained glass window at St. David's calls to mind the story of doubting Thomas - where the disciples were self-isolating, locking themselves in a room out of fear, but the risen Jesus repeatedly breaks into their lives, … offers them peace, … and bestows on them the Holy Spirit.
I’ve really identified with the disciples in this passage lately, and I’ve had a renewed sense of appreciation for this story over the last few weeks, as we’ve spent a lot of time isolated in our homes, … fearful to go outside, … and uncertain what the future might hold. Yet, like the disciples, I’ve had moments where something breaks into my life with an inspiration or fresh idea (I like to think that it’s the risen Jesus), … and it provides me with a sense of strength and comfort and peace.
I read an article recently that reminded me that this often seems to happen during times of adversity – inspiration and invention and innovation arise to address the challenges of the day. And this definitely seems to be happening during this Coronavirus crisis. We see this inspiration and innovation in the advances of new ways of communicating with each other, … and of holding classes on-line, … and of worshiping together.
But it’s not just with breakthroughs in technology. Bad times can also lead to inspirations and innovations in our lifestyles and how we live. And I think the COVID-19 pandemic may be creating such a change in us now - by forcing many of us to slow down, to spend more time in contemplation and personal reflection, away from the noise and hustle-and-bustle of the world. And with more quiet time, more privacy, more stillness, we’ve had the opportunity to think about who we are, as individuals and as a society, … to consider what’s truly important to us, … and to recognize and better appreciate what we’ve been missing – like the connection and interaction and physical embrace of others.
Unfortunately, lifestyles and the ways we live don’t change easily. Without noticing, we easily slip into familiar routines, … become accustomed to how things are, … and to fall into ruts. It often takes some powerful outside force to strike us and awaken us from our slumber.
And over the last month or so, we’ve definitely been struck. With daily routines interrupted, with many workplaces shut down, with restaurants and movie theaters and stores closed, with many of us spending the 24 hours of each day sequestered in the small caves of our homes, suddenly we find ourselves alone with our thoughts, and we have the chance to notice: We have been living too fast. We have been too caught up chasing after speed, or efficiency, or money, or “progress” or prosperity or “success.” We have missed out on contemplating life’s deep thoughts and celebrating life’s simple joys. And we have taken for granted things that we never realized were so important to us – interactions with others, … being a part of a community, … the touch of a friend.
At some point, this Coronavirus crisis will pass, and we can begin the long process of rebuilding our lives and getting back to “normal.” But as we do, I hope the inspiration of a more contemplative, deliberate way of living can stick with us and bring us strength and comfort and peace as we move forward.
May God’s peace be with you.
- Pastor Micah