When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” and with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit." –John 20:19&21
How do we experience the joy that we believe comes with the Resurrection when our world is suffering in a pandemic?
In Guyana, since our first COVID case, we battled with the global health pandemic, an ‘elections pandemic’, where we witnessed an election that lasted for approximately five months. We were plunged into another ‘pandemic,’ related to a crisis in our church which has caused pain and brokenness in our Church. As the COVID pandemic is still detrimental to the world, we struggle to bring about justice and restoration of order, unity, and healing in our Church.
During the times of facing persecution, social, economic, health struggles, and possible death could drive fear in us, and we could feel like the disciples who were locked away in fear behind closed doors. Fear can cause us to terminate our path of conversion and commitment. Covered beneath our spiritual apathy and lack of zeal are not so much our personal flaws or our lack of human virtue as blindness to the dynamic power of the Crucified and Risen Lord.
We can leave our self-made prisons only by opening our hearts to a faith in Christ that is COMPLETE: complete trust, in spite of the confusion of the present and uncertainty of the future. A complete hope, by breaking away from having to see the ideal in ourselves before we will act, and complete divine confidence in casting aside the sins of others and our personal failures that keep us fixed in a narrow-minded vision of life. Christ comes through sealed doors in this Easter season to ask us to unlock them with a real experience of the Risen Lord in the power of the Spirit.
After being really excited about the fulfilment of a great expectation of having the Messiah on Palm Sunday, everything seemed to be falling apart. All of the people’s hopes, dreams, and expectations that were embodied in Jesus seemed to come crashing down. There was nothing but grief, sadness, lostness, pain, suffering, and fear.
People certainly feel deeply vulnerable in a time when their hopes and certainties are crushed, but in resurrection Jesus overcomes death, and in so doing offers us new life: A new norm. This new norm is not a return to the victorious hopes of Palm Sunday. The crucifixion had shown us the reality of pain and suffering and the lengths that God will go to help us to find God’s love.
The new norm that was reflected in the resurrection was different. Christ breathes afresh on us to receive the power of the Holy Spirit, and send us to proclaim the gospel amid pain, suffering, and loss, to experience and live out the Resurrection joy even amid the ‘pandemics of over lives.’
It was a revelation that the might of God is revealed in vulnerability and suffering love. The new norm was that people recognized their inter-connectivity and wider call to live under the wing of God, who is love: to care for the sick; to live life with and for others; to seek after wisdom, gentleness, peace, love, and joy; to overcome the old gods of greed, individualism, and false idols; to live together as one Body. The new norm of course includes pain and suffering, but not without hope.
The COVID crisis is not a good thing. It is horrible, painful, fearful. We have to name it as such. Nevertheless, if perfect love does drive out fear and if Jesus truly is risen, then perhaps the new norm that will emerge when the virus is defeated will help lead us to a place where we can see life more clearly, live with complete HOPE in our Risen Lord and love God and one another more fully.
—Rev. Gaitri Singh -Henry
Guyana Presbyterian Church
Rev. Gaitri Henry was a delegate representing the Guyana Presbyterian Church at CAANAC’s General Assembly in Guyana in 2018. She is a wife and mother of three lovely children. She is an Educator and the Minister at the Burns’ Memorial Presbyterian Church, Guyana.