When I was in high school a series of movies came out that had everyone on the edge of their seats. It was one of those movies that you did not want to miss in the theaters. The impact of the surround sound coupled with the fantastic imagery just drew you in deeper and deeper as the whole audience went deeper into the rabbit hole. I suppose, if you wanted to, you could have taken the blue pill, but the journey down the rabbit hole by way of the red pill was much more exhilarating.
In the film The Matrix, we follow Neo and see how his reality keeps shifting and turning as we get deeper and deeper into the story. In the first movie, we are waiting to see if Neo is, in fact, “The One.” Will he be the one that is able to help humanity in its fight against the machines, or is Morpheus off his rocker in thinking that Neo has it in him to be “the One?” How will Neo be able to keep up with the twists and turns that keep coming his way in the first film and continue into the second and third installments of the series?
In one sense, our own reality has been something like Neo’s in the matrix: changing from one moment to the next. As we do our best to respond to the spread of the coronavirus, reality continues to shift as new recommendations come out for us to follow. Just this week, our own governor issued an executive order for the state. In the wake of that order, our parish made the decision to shift how we will do worship one more time, and we did this because we feel it is the right thing for us to do for the common good. It is good for our parish to model the absolute best behavior in our own efforts to slow the spread of this virus.
Beginning this weekend, we would normally be preparing the church for a week of special liturgies leading us into the glory of Christ’s resurrection on Easter. We wold be focused on the multiple invitations to gather as the Body of Christ to walk the lonely road of crucifixion – the same road that leads us into the glory of what God does for humanity in and through God’s son, Christ Jesus. It would be a week filled with prayer and with journeying. It would be a week of last minute preparations, of hurried rehearsals, and of things somehow coming together in the end.
And here is the amazing truth: it is all going to happen. We will begin our journey towards the cross on Sunday with a live stream Liturgy of the Palms. We will walk the lonely road of crucifixion and passion with our Lord and Savior. We will sit at the foot of the cross as we reflect on the ways that we not only have helped to nail those nails into the cross beam but also how it is we that hang from that very same cross. We will be quiet on Holy Saturday as we grapple with Christ being in the tomb. And we will hear the Easter proclamation. We will do all of this through live stream worship, and we will do all of this through the invitation of this moment to dwell in God’s holy Word in liturgies that focus our attention there.
Holy Week is not delayed or postponed. Easter is not cancelled. Our ability to fellowship with each other is not taken away. It has simply shifted like Neo’s reality. As we go down this rabbit hole and seek out the ways to remain connected, we begin to understand that God is always right here in our midst. God is inviting us into a week of prayer and contemplation of the life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son. (We will get to Ascension in a little while!)
Our communion is, quite likely, to be a lot like that very first Easter: a morning of surprise and wonder at what God is achieving in this present moment and in this ever-changing time.