By Bishop Todd Townshend
One year ago, when the phrase “novel coronavirus” was fairly new to us, it had already begun its reign of disruption and destruction.
When that tiny microbe flourishes, it attacks and destroys the cells of its host. It seems so small, it cannot travel on its own, it has no malevolent design in its “mind” (as far as we know), but within weeks it travelled across the globe with massive impact and started to have a diabolical effect – people started to get sick and die – and we had to change our ways.
Human beings were asked to stay still, don’t travel, don’t gather. We are not wired to stay still and, especially in the church, we are not trained to stay apart. Our first instinct is always to gather for comfort and to create a strong community through which we can respond to needs.
That is our only power in the world, to come together as a body and to speak and act in the name of Christ. The Creator raises up a body of people for the purposes of God. The Holy Spirit of God provides the energy and the effectiveness. It’s starts with a summons and a gathering.
This is one of the reasons why it has been a tough year. Yet, we found other ways to “gather”. Thanks be to God for all the high-tech and low-tech solutions to this problem, and thanks be to God for all of you. We are going through a slow process of gathering around Christ in both old and new ways. I think that, as a result, we will be able to gather now with clearer intention and with greater awareness of what we value in worship and service.
The first Easter season was the beginning of a time in which the first disciples slowly processed the reality of the absence of Jesus. He had died. He was gone. And then He started to appear to them—the same person but somehow completely new. The wounds still on his body but… there, present, breathing the Spirit of peace and drawing them out of their places of hiding into the new creation that resulted from his Resurrection.
This was the same Jesus who had gathered them around a table in the upper room before He died. The one who gave them the command to love and the one who demonstrated to them how to do it. The one who now sits at the right hand of God and reigns over all that is.
The little virus that caused a pandemic can never reign over all of life—and death—like Jesus can, and does. Nothing can reign in our lives like He can. If we have been through the waters of baptism and gathered at His table, we are His forever. Nothing can change that. Thanks be to God.
I am grateful for a recent visit to Church House in London by Jeffrey “Red” George, an Ojibway artist from Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. Red painted “The Original Chief and Council” seen here and now which hangs at the entrance of our Diocesan offices.
May you be blessed by his beautiful interpretation of the truth that we are gathered around Christ’s table and we forever live within Christ’s reign.
(Featured photo: Jeffrey “Red” George, THE ORIGINAL CHIEF AND COUNCIL. Red’s painting decorates the entrance of Huron Church House in London, Ontario)