It is 8:48 p.m. on Tuesday April 7, 2020. What we can gather from that date is that:
A.It is Holy Week.
B.We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And by the time you can gather that I'm a bit bored of my Netflix show I'm watching and felt an urge to write a blog—Martha (the one who graciously uploads my blogs and watches over the website) I hope will be happy with this predicament!
I think it struck me today, as I was walking around the manse and South Mountain Church—chatting with people as they were strolling by at a distance of at least two metres—that Good Friday would be very different this year.
Good Friday is THE day of significance for me. I am mindful and humbly gracious of what the Cross means for me personally and for the world in general. Don't get me wrong, I love Easter, and the time leading up to and including Christmas is so special. But Good Friday is the culmination of all my faults and all God's Grace. And usually in a beautiful Eastern Ontario Spring day.
We've been marking it, for the past decade or so by holding the Cross Walk through South Mountain. Several people from our four churches (along with friends, neighbours, family and four-legged friends) join with me as we carry the cross through the village and stop at various points to hear the story of the crucifixion. The walk starts at 11:00 a.m. and we end our pilgrimage by sharing in a potluck lunch. I make three or four types of soup, including at least one vegetarian as well as my mom's hamburger soup. Everyone else brings sandwiches, desserts, drinks. Then, 40 or so of us just revel in being together. It's 1:30 p.m. by the time the last person heads for home.
And we can't do it this year.
I must admit that I'm sad about not doing the Cross Walk. I'm going to miss the kids and teens (the teens who were once the kids in the strollers), the grammas and the grampas, Kelly and Chris' huge dog, the various folks who can't walk but will follow along in a car. Then, as everyone drifts away, my family—Andrea and her kids, Dad and Moreen—sticks around for about 30 minutes or so. When they've gone, I put away the leftover soup for the next day's lunch and then start getting ready for the Good Friday evening service.
I inherited this evening service when I arrived in the South Mountain-Hallville Pastoral Charge 17 years ago. Most Good Friday services are held at 11:00 a.m. But not here and so that's how the Cross Walk started. I needed to do something during the day.
In the grand scheme of things, all of this is not a huge worry or problem. We'll pick up the walk next year with new and more delicious soups. I know that. But this loss, the loss of something that is dear to my heart, not just as a minister but as part of Christian journey, is significant.
So … I'm going to put up a Virtual Cross Walk Facebook page and do a Facebook video live service tomorrow, Good Friday, on the 4 United Churches Family and Friends Facebook page (see our website at www.4unitedchurches.ca for the link to the video and the order of service).
I am hopeful that for those of us who are staying home, self-isolating and maintaining physical distance and who LOVE Jesus and church, will find this service meaningful. If not, I know there are a lot of other better pastors doing something similar.