Where do we go from here?
The Rev. Jennifer Gregg
“Where do we go from here?
This isn’t where we intended to be…”
-From the musical Evita, ‘You Must Love Me’.
These lyrics from the musical Evita have been rolling around in my head over the last couple of weeks. Personally speaking, I always find musicals to be able to speak to the heart of my soul in times of need.
And so, this song has been a part of my playlist in recent days.
Where do we go from here? How do we even begin to pick up the pieces from the last year we have born witness to?
It is certainly not where any of us intended to be when we started 2020.
As I have had and listened to conversations more recently, I sense a growing enthusiasm of getting back in our churches so we can worship and be together as soon as possible.
This will be good, wonderful, and beautiful.
And, is this all that we hope for?
To go back to things the way they were.
Or is this the Spirit stirring a deeper invitation within and among us?
Like so many of you, I write this exhausted, with my second (or third) cup of coffee firmly placed before me. And, at the same time, I realize if we just go back to the way things were before, I wonder if we will have lost an opportunity to meet a community, our communities, with the love of God that has no end.
With that I find myself reciting the opening words of the Burial Service,
“I am resurrection, and I am life says the Lord.
Whoever has faith in me shall have life,
Even though he die.
And everyone who has life,
And has committed himself to me in faith,
Shall not die forever….”
As I sit with these words, I know that my colleagues will be reciting them as we regather: to bury and remember all those that have died.
There are simply not enough “sighs” to articulate the weight of this grief.
Yet, within them, I also hear an Easter invitation.
As we slowly come out of this pandemic, our communities of faith are uniquely positioned to ask, “What is the Good News we are called to proclaim as we rise from these ashes?” We are moving out of a long Lent and are in a time of existential and cultural crossroad. We may long for what was familiar: our familiar pew, coffee hour, the gathered Body. But in this moment, I believe, we are being invited to write a new story with a new understanding.
Can we imagine our communities? Are they the people walking or driving past our buildings with a song in their heart from this last year that they are trying to sort through? Can we imagine each passerby singing these adapted lyrics from Evita’s, ‘You Must Love Me’:
“…Certainties [have] disappear[ed]
What do we do for our dreams to survive?
How do we keep our passions alive,
As we used to do? (before 2020)
Deep in my heart I’m concealing
Things that I am longing to say
Scared to confess what I’m feeling
Frightened [it will all] slip away.
You must love me.
You must love me.”
Beloved, we must be loved. Loved through our grief. Loved through our disorientation. Loved into the unknown world we will gradually re-enter.
God’s love made flesh through human hearts and hands, to bear witness to a God who loves us all and will never let us go, especially in this season of grief. Can we imagine our communities singing to one another, “You must love me. You must love me.”
The truth is we know that we cannot get to Easter without moving through Good Friday. They are always in order. How can we be present to our communities where collective grief can be named and held and also touch the light of the resurrection?
When we return to our pews, things will not be the same. Nor should they be.
May God give us the courage to ask the questions, to create compassionate spaces and the grace so that even as we stand at the grave can say, “Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.”
If your congregation is interested in how they can begin to answer the question, “What is the Good News we are called to proclaim as we rise from these ashes?” , please reach out to The Rev. Jennifer Gregg, firstname.lastname@example.org to connect you with resources within and around our diocese.