By Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt
It all started out so simply. Two grandparents heading to Ottawa to be with grandchildren while their nursery school and day care were closed for March Break.
Then events evolved, the world changed and after developing a cough which was unappreciated by the rest of my clan, I was relegated to enforced isolation in my son’s basement. This has been, so far, in the words of a Facebook posting, the “Lentiest Lent” I have experienced.
Believe it or not, it has also been profoundly meaningful.
During this Season of Lent, social media has given me the opportunity to worship with colleagues in ministry in the Diocese of Huron, across Canada and around the world. These connections have been the result of the Holy Spirit moving in the life of the Body of Christ, calling God’s People to be mutually responsible for each other, upholding each other, caring for each other and ministering to each other.
In the midst of the Season of Lent 2020, episcopal leadership has recognized that as responsible citizens, gathering for public worship was not a viable option. As I write these words, we face the reality that Easter Sunday will not be a time when our church buildings will be filled with the community of faith offering jubilant Hosannas. Instead, as individuals, or in gatherings of immediate family members we will have had the opportunity to read the Easter Story in our own homes and to reflect on what the impact of that story is in our own lives.
It has always struck me that one of the essential elements of Scripture is how telling the story of God’s redeeming love, is such a key element in strengthening the foundation of faith upon which individuals have been able to sustain a witness through the generations.
The question, “Why is this night different from all other nights?”, which is so central to the Passover Supper tradition opens the door for the story of Liberation and Redemption to be shared. The command, “Do this in Remembrance of Me”, takes people of faith to a moment in time where an intimate relationship with Jesus is renewed. Emboldened and empowered by the Holy Spirit, the Apostles step out into the world, to tell the world the Good News of Jesus. They tell a story, which is also our story to tell, as we share an identity with the Apostles as being followers of, disciples of, Jesus.
One of my favourite actors is David Suchet. I have been drawn in to his presentation over the years of the Agatha Christie stories she wrote which had the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot use his “little grey cells” to solve challenging murder mystery cases. One of my discoveries during Lent of 2020 was Suchet’s reading of the Gospel of Mark from the pulpit of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England. Available as a more than two hour viewing experience on YouTube, his reading offers a new opportunity to hear the familiar story of our faith. I commend it to you.
As we have been living through, what many have realistically described as “challenging times”, there has been a great deal which has been circulated offering a wide variety of ways to cope with the concerns of day to day living and personal health and well – being. As you hear the Gospel of St Mark read aloud, it is possible to meet kindred spirits in the Disciples, who, like us, have many fears and questions.
Our vantage point in the 21st century allows us to look back over the witness of the faithful followers of Jesus who have told and re-told the Gospel story and who have drawn strength from that experience. It is a strength that has enabled them to come to grips with personal difficulties and global challenges. It is my prayer that your personal well – being will be affirmed and your faith will be renewed by listening to the Gospel story.
As we prepare to celebrate Pentecost this year, let us follow the example of the Apostles and emerge from behind our closed doors ready to share the Gospel Story in a world which needs to hear a message of hope. We have a text which is filled with hope and love. Let us use the Gospel text we have inherited and proclaim it well.
Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt has retired from full time parish ministry, but continues to offer priestly ministry in the Diocese of Huron.
(Featured photo: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash)