When the paralytic was waiting by the pool of Bethesda to be healed, he complained, “I have no man to put my into the water.” For thirty-eight years he patiently waited for God until that day came. We too have been waiting for God. Once our Churches are reopened, what will our excuse be to not be in Church? In truth we have no excuse because we have The Man, and His name is Jesus Christ.
When it comes to matters of faith, courage is a staple character trait, and nothing requires more courage than obedience. Joseph of Arimathea took courage and approached Pilate for the body of Christ. The Myrrhbearing women took courage to leave their homes at dawn to anoint Jesus. They all had courage to obey the authorities. In a similar way, we must now have courage to be obedient to the Church and remain home until it is safe to gather in groups for worship. Courage does not mean carelessness. Neither Joseph nor the women were careless in their actions.
When we are closed in our homes during this health crisis, we are reminded of the Holy Apostles who were also closed in their home due to fear. Despite the closed door, God was present with His Apostles, just as He was present with you, and is present with you, in your home every time you light your candles and say your prayers as a family. Just because you can’t see Him, doesn’t mean He isn’t there with you. God is always with you.
With the closing of Bright Week, also known as Renewal Week, in the Orthodox Church today, the sense of celebration begins to wind down. If you have attended services this week, albeit virtually, you would have recognized that each Orthros began the same as it did early Sunday morning after the Service of the Resurrection. Tomorrow that will all change.
What happens when we get wrapped up in our own way of thinking? What happens when we don’t allow the evidence in front of us to help shape our thoughts? What happens when we think we know best? Judas happens.
On Holy and Great Wednesday the Orthodox Church commemorates the betrayal of Christ by Judas. This is such a profound day that it is a day of fasting just about year round, with very few exceptions. It is a day in which we recall the risk of being blinded by pride.
During our Christian journey we are constantly being told to love others as ourselves, put the needs of others ahead of our needs, and to serve others. Then somehow we’re told that five virgins that wouldn’t share their oil with others were wise. The virgins that needed oil for their lamps were the foolish ones. Which is it? Serve others or keep the oil to ourselves?
Having just celebrated Palm Sunday and the Saturday of Lazarus, Great Lent almost seems like a distant memory. It is a good reminder that time moves constantly forward, despite and sometimes it feels in spite of our desires to slow it down. Alas, it moves with the same speed every day, and we are blessed with weeks like this to remind ourselves that we don’t have ‘all the time in the world’ to get down what our souls needs getting done.
For the Feast of Palm Sunday, we welcome The King of Kings, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, not into the city, but into our hearts. This year because of the pandemic, we celebrate the Victorious Entrance of Christ by staying at home, rather than gathering a large crowd in the Church. This year our humble king is honored by being invited to enter our hearts and become our King.
On the Saturday of Lazarus, the day before Palm Sunday, the Church recalls the faith of Mary and Martha and the power of God. Their faith wasn’t perfect. In fact they had a moment of doubt when they said, “If only you had been here, our brother would not be dead.” When they witnessed the power of God, they believed more than ever. This year, our faith might have its moments of doubt, but by God’s power, and the love we show other by staying home, our faith will be resurrected. When we are allowed back to Church, our faith will be stronger than ever before.