Author: Rev. Dr. Mark R. Holland, Executive Director
Like just about everyone, my wife and I and our four kids plus a friend are all sheltering in place right now. Our house was much bigger when our kids were small! But with five young adults ages 14-22 in the house (and two dogs) it feels like we could use some more room, better Wi-Fi, and more patience. We are blessed and taking it in stride, praying for those suffering job loss, grief, illness, and death. We are also praying for those on the frontlines of hospitals, pharmacies, grocery stores, and other essential roles who are at risk helping others. We are trying to do our part. Nothing is more important right now than healing a world reeling from this pandemic. It is easy to feel helpless and hopeless.
As a pastor, Holy Week and Easter are my favorite time of year and my source of hope. It always brings out the best of the church as we prepare and enjoy the most meaningful holiday on the Christian calendar. This Holy Week is like none other and it makes me wonder about how the coronavirus would have impacted Jesus. The Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem would have been canceled. The Last Supper would have violated the “gatherings of ten” and would have either been rescheduled or moved online. (There is a funny link below of a picture of the Last Supper as a Zoom meeting.) It is unlikely that the Sanhedrin would have met and there would have been no crowd to egg-on Pilate to crucify Jesus.
The Good News is, world events and even a pandemic cannot stop the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ. God could have worked through a pandemic then and still brought us the gracious witness of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The same is true now. The pandemic has altered our churches’ plans and forced us to be physically closed during the most important time of the year, but nothing can stop our witness to Christ in a hurting world.
I find myself grateful for our United Methodist values during this season. We believe in both faith and science as John Wesley taught us, “Unite the pair so long disjoined, knowledge and vital piety.” I am proud of the closing of our UM churches as a witness to the world that we trust in Christ, believe the science, and we value the health of all people. I am embarrassed and saddened by the news stories of the few churches across the country who refuse to close. Their anti-science, anti-government beliefs are putting their people and their entire communities at risk. This is a poor witness to Jesus Christ and reflects badly on all churches. I pray no harm comes to those being led down a reckless path. Lord hear our prayer.
I am looking forward to praying through this week. I have been studying the Gospel of Mark this month and I pray for clear eyes and heart as I read anew the last six chapters. The Easter Resurrection feels especially powerful and needed right now. Blessings for you and your family and your church during this most difficult time and this holiest of weeks.
Please support your local church during this difficult time. And, if you are able, please also consider an Easter donation to support Mainstream UMC, www.MainstreamUMC.com/donate Thank you.
Here is a funny picture of the Last Supper on Zoom. You can also see it on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mainstreamumc