March 13, 2020 was the last day of the icon workshop at All Saints’. It was also the first day of closing down of public spaces and the physical distancing order from our governor. On Friday morning, the participants decided to stop the workshop at Noon, to postpone the blessing of the icons, to cleanup the room, and to head home. As we gathered for Noonday Prayer, someone said, “This might be the last corporate prayer we will have for a long time.” It was a sobering and true statement, and one which we did not want to hear. Our hearts were sad. So we prayed.
The icon I was writing was the crucifixion of Christ. It is an icon that represented a hard reality in my Christian life. As a child, and even as an adult, the crucifixion haunted me as a reflection of the meanness of people. As I wrote this icon a loving transformation happened. Instead of a feeling of meanness, of pain and hurt of human brokenness, I was surrounded in the grace of forgiveness, peace and love of Christ. It was a if Jesus was saying, “I have this; I love you; I took it all to the cross for you.” The crucifixion, in its suffering, was the greatest act of sacrificial love. “You are all my beloved.”
During the March 13 Noonday Prayer, Jesus took my fears of the impending isolation and replaced those feeling with love, peace and hope. Grace anointed me in the spirit of holiness.
The sweet memory of that Noonday Prayer and the yet-to-be-finished icon sustain me during this “stay at home mode.”
During these days of being separated from my family, my parish and my ministry, I find great strength in the simple things: the study of scripture, and prayer: simple prayers of gratitude and lament. In my journal I write three blessings each day. They are as simple as flowers blooming or a bird singing. I try to keep a routine.
The words from scripture resonate in my mind and heart, like this passage from Romans 5:1-2. “Since we are justified in faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, though whom we have obtained access to this grace on which we stand; and we boast of our hope and the sharing the glory of God.”
The icon of the crucifixion is in process, yet Christ is fully present and, from the cross, illuminates the world. Jesus is with us.
I will finish the icon and we will join in corporate prayer again.
On Sunday, we will celebrate that we are Easter people, followers of Christ and believers in the gift of everlasting life.
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
Christ is with us.
Blessed Holy Week,