A Reflection from Father John Jennings

by | May 2, 2020

Jesus Risen: Present with Us

4th Sun Easter

Stained glass windows are common in churches. They can be moving images. Sometimes they even serve as instruments of teaching. Frequently they present images drawn from the Scriptures, stories of God’s relationship with God’s People. Most often these images are drawn from past eras. They speak in a language of another time.

Not far from Canada’s Wonderland northwest of Toronto is the church of St. David. It is a relatively new building. Like many of our churches it has some stained glass. One of these is quite striking. Its center point is as one would expect the good news of God’s presence among us. What is unusual is how this is expressed. The images used to show the message are contemporary. The Sky Dome, the CN Tower, a baseball player, a hockey player, a soccer player, scenes of Toronto life are used to express the message of Jesus. There is a recognition, that Jesus is among us, now, in the midst of our many relationships.

Recently Fr. Richard Rohr has focused his daily online reflections on our current experience of Covid-19. He sees this experience as a transitional time. One of the ways he expresses this is as “liminal space”, a kind of border land where we are leaving one state and moving on to a new one. Together, we are passing through a borderland in which we will be changed. As Rohr puts it: “We are betwixt and between, having left one room or stage of life but not yet entered the next.” (Rohr ‘Between Two Worlds’, Sun, April 26, 2020)

As our world moves through the experience of this virus, there is hope. Like all such challenges, we will pass through it to a new reality. But in the process of this passage, we will be changed. The world will be different from what we have been used to be. In the current “liminal space” we cannot know exactly all that is involved in this new reality.

Some of what might be the new reality may already be seen. The experience has revealed a sense of sacrifice for the common good of all. A growing use of social media for good purpose has surfaced. For some at least the isolation has called for much inner reflection on our relationships with God, with Jesus the Christ…. and with one another. In some ways, life may be different as we pass through this experience of “liminal” or border space in our lives. Covid-19 may well be a life-changing experience for some of us.

The Easter experience of the disciples was just such a passage through a “liminal space”. They remembered Jesus as he walked with them. Now they came to realize that like the shepherd with his flock, he continues to be with them, even though in different new way. They will live a new reality.

As God has traveled with us in the past, so the risen Jesus journeys with us now. Jesus is the gate through our current “liminal space”. He continues with us in a new reality. We may look and act in different ways on the other side, but that is as it has always been. The Spirit of Jesus has been with us and in a new post-Covid time, Jesus will continue to be with us, even or perhaps especially, in a new reality, for we are disciples of Jesus. Now that is something to trust in, with hope.

For Reflection: What is one of my hopes for this time? How might Jesus be “the gate” for the days ahead?

John Jennings