This is unprecedented.
At least for most of us. Probably for all of us.
Granted, many of us have lived through events that have been unprecedented before. September 11th, Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, any number of other hurricanes and wildfires.
Yet even in that destruction - that massive destruction and trauma - parts of the world and our country continued mostly unscathed.
This is unprecedented because we are ALL in the midst of this. We are all in states and countries where COVID-19 has reminded us that we are part of nature, not in control of it. We are all wondering when we can venture back into our familiar spaces of work and worship and wondering how what we are going through will change these familiar places and spaces and our behavior in them.
For over 30 years, I have celebrated Holy Week and Easter in a certain way. I have gathered with my faith community and prayed ancient prayers, sang hymns, sat in the silence, and allowed the liturgy of the Church offered in community to move me, speak to me, and transform me.
This year will be different. I will not gather in the same space with my faith community. I will not hear the choir chant psalms or have the Altar Guild help me as we strip the altar. I will not wash the feet of others and let them wash mine.
I will not proclaim that Christ is risen and hear the joyful bells proclaim the victory of life over death surrounded by amazing people in the holy space of my parish. I will not embrace Christians as we hug in this joy, nor will I celebrate the First Eucharist of Easter in the physical midst of fellow disciples.
What I do know is that the holiest week of the Christian year will still speak to me, to us. We Christians will still pray together, albeit honoring social distancing. We will still be together, but differently, unexpectedly, and not always in a way that I will like or appreciate.
For those of you with a faith community and lay and clergy leaders who are providing ways to keep Holy Week at home, please participate. Pray, be still, and know that God is God. Create a sacred space in your home, an altar to focus your self and soul during these days. Pray the prayers. Allow the silence to sit with you. Make room for the longing, the lamentations of this different way of celebrating will most certainly bring. And make room for the hope that is there, too, that Christians have celebrated Holy Week and Easter in all manner of unusual, unprecedented, and odd ways over the eons.
I will offer on this blog the services that St. Michael's in Lexington, Kentucky is doing for Holy Week at home. Use them, if you like. Share them. Know that we are all praying together in this unusual way, and we are praying with God and each other in this way. There will be texts of readings and prayers as well as digital aspects that can be used (but don't have to be). Do what works for you and your household. Other sites will share, as well. As I am able, I will share links to those sites.
This is unprecedented, and God is unprecedented. The victory of life over the power of death is unprecedented. The proclamation to the world that Christ is Risen is unprecedented. The love we are called to witness and live during this moment is unprecedented.
And we are not alone.
God is with us, and we are with each other.