Important Post-Easter Note
from Saint James Seminary

Easter is past, but the “He is risen” message
continues.  Christians are called to be “Christ-
like”.  In this period of horrific disruption due to
the Covid-19 virus, we should remember that
we are also called to rise.  We must rise to the
occasion to help healing personnel … to help ill
victims and their families.  And, we are called
to resurrect our own lives, our cities, towns,
businesses, and schools.  And, also, our faith
communities. All must be done when it is safe
to go out again, pull up our sleeves, roll back
the stone of the death-dealing pandemic, and
restore our battered planet to LIFE!    --
The
Saint James Seminary / TLC team

Here is a thoughtful sermon offered
by Jim Wallis, in case you missed
it over the just passed Easter
Sunday:
Jim Wallis is president of
Sojourners.
His new book is
Christ in Crisis:
Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus
and is now
available.








Easter was never meant to go back to normal;
but was, and still is, intended to make all things
new.

For Christians, it means the proclamation of
release over suffering, hope over despair, and
life over death. Still, there is no special
immunity from COVID-19 granted by physically
gathering to worship God.

You don’t love your neighbors by putting their
health and their neighborhoods at risk.

This will be the first Easter in recent memory
when Christians across the globe will be unable
to join with their fellow believers to celebrate
the resurrection of Jesus Christ. One biblical
text is gaining new meaning in this time is
Matthew 18:20, which reads, “for where two or
three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Virtual Easters are taking place today as
pastors and lay leaders “minister” to very small
groups of believers; parents with their children,
other related or closely connected people who
are sheltering together, even individuals who
are alone but might feel less alone because of
the focus on very small groups of people
watching intensely from their homes. Two or
three, or even one, but no more than ten.
Worshiping together, while staying apart, to
celebrate the most important day of Christian
faith, might bring us even closer in this Easter
that nobody will forget.

I know that many pastors around the country
are focusing on their Easter sermon more than
they have in years past. Many are connecting
with each other and finding innovative online
channels and resources with social media
connectivity that enables them to bring worship,
prayer, messages, and even music into the
homes of their parishioners. Many people who
now live in new places can reconnect with their
far away home churches. My wife’s parents,
now in a clergy retirement community in
England, are sharing in the virtual services of
every church they have ever served. And even
many “former” church people are turning back
to virtual spiritual services in this crisis for
inspiration, substance, and community. This
could change congregations in ways we can’t
even imagine now.

As pastors and churches are living into these
new and difficult realities, here are three
practical and vocational roles that faith
communities can play right now in this
pandemic crisis:

1.        Faith communities must put their moral
authority behind the doctors and scientists
pleading with us to practice and maintain our
physical distance from one another as the only
way to “flatten the curve” of this pandemic and
literally save lives. And when the false ministers
who refuse science and disobey their elected
officials out of their own egos rather than
religious liberty, it must be other clergy and
congregations that rebuke them. If the “re-
opening” of the economy and society becomes
politicized, faith communities must stand with
public health authorities and their state and
local elected leaders closest to the people to
determine when it is safe.

2.        We must also fulfill our critical role of
preventing social distancing from becoming
social isolation. Physical distancing must not be
allowed to overcome our social solidarity, which
is a biblical meaning of community. I believe
that clear role of faith communities is becoming
core to us as we approach this holy weekend.
Keeping together while standing apart is a vital
skill and practice that faith communities can
help create and promote — even beyond their
doors.

3.        Live into and deepen our vocation to
focus on the most vulnerable. Jesus specifically
says that how we treat the “least of these” is
literally how we treat him. And that text of
Matthew 25 is the record of the last sermon he
gave just before he entered Jerusalem. The
least of these are the least important in
Washington, D.C., but for followers of Jesus
they must be the most important, and Easter is
the right time to proclaim that.

This pandemic has become very revealing of
the inequities in our society, the gaping holes in
our safety net, and the disparities in our health
care and other systems, and the reality of our
relationships across racial and economic lines.
It has shined a light into the darkness of what
we have ignored or accepted for far too long.
The coronavirus has exposed and laid bare
social injustice, which undermines both our
common good and our common health.
For example, it has been said that the
coronavirus does not discriminate. But that is
not true.

Especially when poor people and too many
black and brown people in America don’t have
access to safe homes, steady incomes, reliable
and healthy food, safe spaces and the
prospect of social distancing in their required
work and family lives, or access to health and
healthy bodies, which makes them more likely
to contract and die from this disease.

Poverty and the impacts of structural racism
are “co-morbidities,” or preconditions that make
it more difficult to avoid and/or survive this
lethal coronavirus.
Some people are asking when we will go back
to normal.
But we won’t and we really can’t. This historical
moment will change us — in ways we can’t
control or even predict. How we act now, and
with whom, and for whom, will shape and even
determine who “we” will be when this current
health crisis begins to pass.

My dear friend, Richard Rohr, a Franciscan
priest and spiritual teacher, gave me an image
this Holy Week of a crucified Christ on the
cross this Good Friday with outstretched hands
saying to a world of coronavirus suffering, “I
can’t stop your suffering, but am with you in it.”

The celebration of the Resurrection on this
Easter Sunday morning may be saying to us in
this COVID-19 moment, “I can, and we can
make these things that have been revealed —
new.” Two women rushed back early that
morning from the graveyard with the happy
news that everything can be different now.
Other disciples ran wide-eyed into an empty
tomb and ran out with courage in their hearts.
Two men walking in utter despair bumped into
a stranger, realized who it was, and found hope
again. A movement began whose message
was that all things can be made new.
What if all that we are learning about our
systems and attitudes and relationships in this
modern plague that is wrong, brutal, unjust, and
unjustifiable were to be made new?

That this public health crisis would prompt a
resurrection in our hearts and minds, reminding
us that we will not go back to “normal”. In a
post-COVID world, we must come together to
choose decisions and actions that make things
“new.”
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.

His new book is available now. Follow Jim on
Twitter @JimWallis.

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