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6 Easter - John 14:15-21

Updated: May 18, 2020

We have been here before.

Maybe each of us individually has not, but we the church have.

Our wise spiritual parents, the Jews, pray and celebrate each Passover in the first personal plural:

"we were slaves in Egypt," they say, even though the ones who lived through it are all

long gone.

In that profound and beautiful sense, we have been here before. We the church have weathered plagues and pandemics and all kinds of politics.

We are heirs to a resilient hope that has buried more loved ones, closed more buildings,

disbanded more committees and grieved more groups than anyone can count.

In fact, we were born in death.

We were launched in loss.

The church is springtime, a miracle of autumn, the community of resurrection that traces its roots to the hopeless night that Jesus and his disciples celebrated their last Passover together and he told them that he was leaving them, and Where I am going, you cannot come.

He was announcing long-term physical distance.

Some of them protested.

All of them were confused and frustrated and hurt.

Life would never be the same again.

Of course, Jesus promised to come back, and the early church spent years expecting this to

happen any minute, watching the sky like CNN for breaking news.

It takes a while to shift completely from one reality into another.

The Passover generation couldn't wait to re-open the Red Sea and get back to Egypt.

Now matter how awful normal was, it was at least familiar, which is why it takes a lot of pain

and disruption and time to make wholesale change stick.

We are only just beginning such a massive shift right now; life will not return to what it was, and we are facing an unmapped new reality.

We are headed someplace we have never been.

We have been here before.

This coming Thursday, the church will celebrate Ascension Day, the completion of Christmas,

the day Jesus dramatically returns home.

Jesus the physical body is gone from view.

Thomas can no longer see or touch the wounds.

Mary can no longer hear the voice.

Peter can no longer look into those hauntingly tender eyes.

The physical separation is unrelenting, and Jesus did not leave a cell phone number.

I will not leave you orphaned, he said, but he did leave them feeling abandoned; who or

what could possibly replace him?

Our singers are great, but I miss the choir.

Mark is great, but don't you miss the band?

Video church is nice, especially how you can walk out during the sermon to go put on pants, but there are no neighbors or faces or enthusiastic children or stories or laughter or donuts or handshakes or hugs or smiles in line for Communion.

Even when we return, it will likely be with masks instead of singing, with painful social

distance and the constant distractions of keeping new regulations, with awkwardness

and uncertainty and worry.

It won't be the same.

And while some of that is good, and much of it is blessing, it is still hard and sad.

It sucks, and we will make it.

Because we the church have been here before.