We see it as one of the leading stories in any report of the news these days. Our country is “opening up” and trying to get back to “the way things were just 3 short months ago.”
COVID-19 stopped our country and the world in our tracks and stunned us with a reality that we never dreamed could happen to us. But it did. And now we are trying to find our way to recovery.
Some voices among us clamor to get back to work and the life we knew before all this happened as quickly as possible. So, many state governments are moving ahead with plans to reopen to get back to this way.
At the same time other voices tell us that it is too soon for large scale numbers of people to be out and about working, recreating, and doing all of the things we are accustomed to doing. COVID cases will rise and there will be more illnesses and suffering. No one knows for sure which way is the better one.
In our churches and among communities of faith, we wrestle with similar questions. When will we be able to get back to worshipping together? When will we be able to gather in groups face-to-face to nurture our faith, comfort and support one another, and serve together in outreach and mission? Which is the way for followers of Jesus in this moment?
Into our searching for a way come the words of Jesus in John 14:6…
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
We who have been following the texts from John’s gospel in these Sundays after Easter have heard Jesus’ words speak to us again and again.
As I have listened to Jesus’ words and discern their message for us in this time, it has occurred to me that they may be the very words we need to hear as we seek a way to live.
Jesus’ teaching in John’s gospel emphasizes a life of believing, abiding, and loving.
Jesus’ claim to be the way to God shows us a particularly embodied way of interpreting these words. When you think of it, you can’t be a traveler without a road or a path and a path or a road would be useless without travelers. Jesus says that he is BOTH the traveler and the road. As we all know from our experiences of traveling, it is a life filled with action!
What may seem most obvious to all of us in this time is all of things we CAN’T do and so we get focused on an inactive way of life.
Not so on Jesus’ way!!!
So here are my practical suggestions that I think you and I can do that follow Jesus’ way.
First, BELIEVING. Believing is an action word in John! First, get yourself a notebook. From what you know about Jesus, begin thinking of all of the actions Jesus showed us how to live. On the first page of your notebook, write them all down.
Then, practicing good physical distancing (6 ft +) and wearing a mask, walk around your neighborhood to see where you can start practicing them in ways that do not call attention to what you are doing. Or, you can start practicing them from your home by making phone calls, sending emails, writing letters or making something you can share with others. And write these things in your notebook so that you can see for yourself that you are living an active life following Jesus’ way.
Then, ABIDING. This one is becoming more difficult by the day, I know.
Staying close to home. But as of this writing, the virus has shown no signs of subsiding or relenting. If you have to go out to work or help someone and this seems to be the best choice for you at this time (thank you from all of us and your families), please do so and you will still be abiding in Jesus’ way. For those of us at home, see BELIEVING above.
Finally, LOVING. My sense is that the love Jesus demonstrated in John’s gospel was real life, gritty love. Yes, it was first of all generous and compassionate. But Jesus didn’t shy away from the challenging opportunities to be loving. So have good courage to find this way to love too. And remember you can always go back to BELIEVING as above and you will still be right in the middle of the action.
Gracious God, you know our hearts and desires to live fully the lives you have given us to live and to be with persons we love or persons we would like to serve. Give us patience to see your way when no other way may be clear to us and see that we can be faithful to you as we believe, abide and love as you have loved us. Amen.