A year ago, I visited for the first time in my life, the place where Jesus likely hung on a cross to die. We sat in lush green garden with sweet smelling flowers and looked out a dusty red earthen hillside on the edge of a rugged curved road. We sat in silence. I imagined Jesus there, with a criminal on his left and his right, the crowds taunting him and the heavens opening to receive his spirit. Then I stood and walked over to the edge of the garden and realized that just a few feet away from this holy site was a bus station where buses were coming and going, honking their horns and squealing their brakes as they pulled up under an awning. It was the most mundane image of ordinary life right next to this holy place of awe and wonder.
I feel like this is exactly where we have been living for the last three months. Because of the pandemic and the protests for racial justice, our vision of the holy and the ordinary have been glimpsed from a new angle, and we have realized that our spiritual lives and our ordinary lives are not two separate realms.
Though we have not been able to sit and sing together in church we have sung the praises of doctors and nurses who have risked their lives for the health and safety of those with Covid-19. Though we have not been able to gather to say the Lord’s Prayer in unison together we have prayed fervently for the sick in ICU. Though we have not been able to break bread at a common table we have sent thousands of dollars of food to food banks and food kitchens serving our local neighbors. The sacred has not been locked up in our building of stained glass and stone but released into the community of our homes, our jobs, our neighborhoods.
And now, as we are unable to gather in common worship, folks of all skin tones and socioeconomic groups have gathered in the streets to proclaim that all of God’s children deserve justice. Like the prophets of the Old Testament who demand that we “do justice, love compassion and walk humbly with God” we have seen an outpouring of folks across the nation walking in unison and demanding justice in our common life.
I think Jesus would love it, if he were to notice that the bus station is just a few feet away from the cross. Because the story of his sacrificial love was only the beginning of our story of going to a new place.