And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22: 19
So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” John 20:25
Its been an odd time for Bethel, hasn’t it. While things are slowly ‘opening up’, and we’ve been able to do more together, the infection rates of Covid are still rising and many of you have expressed how insecure you are feeling with groups activities and seeing fewer and fewer people in public wearing masks. One of you talked about how much you missed the direction arrows in the grocery store, because they prevented you from coming face-to-face with another customer. We want desperately to see each other; to do Bethel-like things like share a meal with each other, or just hang out drinking coffee. But those pre-pandemic activities seem to be a bit elusive as we grapple with our post-pandemic life.
On top of it all, the sick and injured list of the Bethel community seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. Jan Gardiner renamed Bethel “St. Bethel of the Wounded Knee” a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been jokingly using that moniker for us since then because it seems so appropriate. The injuries, the exhaustion and the fear seem to just be rumbling as an undercurrent in our community and makes us all hesitant to say that we are o.k. Some of our traditional opportunities have been put on hold as people who normal organize and support them are unable to, and it looks like there may be some activities that we just can’t do “the way we always did” any more.
I really think that this time is just a natural progression for Bethel. It may have been slightly hastened by the pandemic, but I really think that considering the age of most of us who worship at Bethel, that the number of helping hands for traditional fund raisers and activities is simply less than it was when we were creating the opportunities and the meaning. Last week, Ruth Anne dropped off a quilt with butterflies on it for our ‘Butterfly themed’ Easter worship. She tells me that although she pieced the quilt, that it was quilted by hand by the women at the church. Sue Miller tells me that she likely worked on that quilt. Its beautiful, but what’s the most beautiful is that it holds this memory of a time when quilt frames were set up in the hall and the whole UCW worked on the activity. Its easy to stay in that place, isn’t it. Its easy to stay in the place where we could gather and work, we could do things like quilt by hand, and we could create meaning and identity in community.
As tempting as it is, though, we can’t stay there. Because, if we do, then we get stuck in the loss and the grief.
Its hard to look at our present with grace-filled eyes, though. Our bodies are aging, are changing, and in many cases are wearing down our wearing out. There are fewer and fewer of us who are able to do the work that used to come so easily. We don’t have quilting frames in the hall any more. Our best baker of pies is struggling with health issues. We had to ‘hone down’ our pancake breakfast because we aren’t sure who can help and if we can actually serve in the hall. There are fewer and fewer people to step up and help out when things need to be done.
Its hard to look at our loss and our change with Grace, particularly when we are still dealing with grief.
But, my friends, isn’t that what Easter is really about?
I just want you to think about it for a moment.
Jesus’ body was broken.
But its this broken body that reminds us of who Jesus is.
We see Jesus, as Thomas, in injury, in loss and in brokenness.
And our Christian story tells us that Resurrection comes after Jesus’ body is broken – but that the disciples only could ‘see’ resurrection, by ‘seeing’ Jesus’ brokenness.
So, I’m thinking, my Bethel friends, that this struggle that we are all having – that maybe, instead of lamenting and grieving the loss, we may need to consider what Resurrection looks like. For us. Injuried knees and all. Loss and all. Grief and all.
Because that’s our story. That’s our church. That’s our faith.
That’s our God.
A broken body, given to you, in Remembrance of Jesus.
Blessings today, and remember you are Loved,