St Matthews Digital
22 March 2020
Separately together in these times
The first Sunday when church was cancelled at the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic; a reading and sermon recorded in the church before we moved into the first lockdown
Rev Cate Thorn
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Separately together in these times
Well, here we are in a church not so full today. This 22nd day of March, just this last Thursday evening. I popped in to pack and save an Albany just to pick up a few things.
Not such a good idea. I had never witnessed anything quite like it a ten-minute. Wait for a trolley as we walked in. There was a 30-minute wait at the chick out. We were told. But what really struck me was the feeling the palpable experience of almost Pennock. It felt as if there was only a thread, only a thread holding people back from stampeding into it.
It's swirling around this disruptive, unsettling feeling, it's hard to imagine the reality of covid-19 virus. We hear of its effects overseas and frightening detail which though distance can be overwhelming. And the Very time we want to reach out to one another, to touch to comfort is the very time we must refrain so that Thursday, while driving home, I decided to pay attention to the unsettled disruption in my belly to try and understand its cause Fear was the word that came to mind.
You'd have, what was I afraid?
It may not be made real yet here immediately in our lives, but it's getting closer day by day. This was to be our last chance to gather on Sunday for a while and Helen may well be cross about it, but I think it is unlikely. We will be able to gather at one place on Saturday on Easter day or Saturday.
We can decide to do something in common in are scattered places on that day, so that we know ourselves connected. Perhaps intentionally enact a Darkness to light ritual, will decide to pay attention. In a particular way we can decide to do something in common even as we cannot be in the same space.
Prayerfully. We can know. We companion one another and we plan for there to be virtual live feed connectivity.
This new real is hard to imagine.
We have to change our behaviors to prevent the spread of a virus a virus. We cannot see that can be carried and communicated even as the one carrying it is unaware for, they have no symptoms.
It's hard to get your head around.
Right now. It feels a bit as if we are. Neither here nor there a vs2. We know. Can bring out a spirit of innovation tenacity, collegial creativity.
But we're not quite there yet. Anxious and distracted. We have to face this new way in a world of distanced togetherness.
Today we listened to a version of the scripture. Enacted, the gospel from John of the band Blind from birth being healed and the ensuing argument or perhaps discussion, But how do we make connection between our experience of being a gathered community of st. Matthews this gospel and the real world we know we're going to walk into necessarily separated. That is not like anything we've known before.
Touissant Matthews and this gospel text, simply fulfill a religious need in us or might we find them to have application Beyond to be deeper than religions possession.
As I've listened to the gospel over the week, it seems to me to speak quite a lot about resistance to change within The Narrative of the text. The resistance of those with religious power to change the way they interpret the world or rather to change. How they interpret, what happens in the world despite all the evidence before them.
A man. Born blind does receive site, but I'm not sure. This narratives about miraculous healing, who say the blind, man. Seems almost a porn. A character used to reveal something. So, John's Jesus can make a point.
From the outset we get introduced to a world of you.
Jesus and his disciples meet a bigger. A man blind from birth. We're told the explanation for such condition. So the disciple interprets is because of the sinfulness, either of the man or his parents, neither Jesus declares but the interchange provides opportunity for Jesus to reveal the effect of the unquestioned and unexamined interpretation.
Without actually asking the blind man, what he wants which I think's a bit presumptuous do, just proceeds to spread muck and mud and spit on the Blind Man's eyes. He seems the men to wash in the pool of Siloam and the man can see Then there's a whole number of arguments and interrogations about the man's identity about the genuineness of his blindness about who's allowed to be named as the source of this healing over. And again, the statement of facts of what happened of identity is repeated with the, by the man born blind or by the parents of the man born blind.
Leading questions from such factual response, receive blunt reply, I don't know. We do not know we or I only know what happened.
It's a text unfolds with holy humor. The farcical E untenable position, those with power insist on holding is exposed even. So were spluttering Blaster, they claimed their hold of the Holy High ground and along with that, the right to cynic, use to diminish and dismiss the personhood of another Holy humor, perhaps it's a good reminder to us to laugh at ourselves more often. If we took ourselves list, seriously, perhaps would be open to see things as they are.
And let them be.
Resist the temptation to impose our flights of interpreter fancy upon what his plane before us.
In the times, we find ourselves, we can be tempted to overuse our access to information to interpret in a it, in a way to rationalize our fear and anxiety, even escalated to the catastrophic, Let us be reminded to stick to what we know. We know that the covid-19 virus is rapidly moving across our world without under estimating, the effect of it. Statistically most people who get infected by it will recover We are fortunate to know from the experience of countries whose management of this virus has minimized as impact. There are ways we can socially organized that will inhibit its spread. So we have been asked to accept the mantle of Citizen responsibility and change the way we live.
The beginning conversation around covid-19 was about not letting it to be communicated. Was about living as if you had the virus was about fighting about avoidance and about prevention.
This Remains the intention to slow it spread to try and prevent a community outbreak. But increasingly the language is changing increasingly. We're being asked to live for one another to live in socially responsible ways, out of care, for one another, especially those most vulnerable to the covid-19 virus.
Weeping asked to actively notice and to care for our neighbor to change for the good of one another and for the good of our society.
But it doesn't remove our anxiety, and our fear that thin thread of almost Panic among us. We are being asked to live differently unaided by the systems and structures that order our lives without the distractions. And diversions were used to cope and stimulate meaningfulness.
And for many, there is no reassurance of economic or Korea continuity as they've known it.
We live present to the effects of the Unseen covid-19 virus and we know it's not going to end soon.
Anxiety, and fear are appropriate reactions.
What might the gospel narrative have to speak into all of this?
Did you notice that somewhat enigmatic ending of today's Gospel?
if you were blind, you would not have sin but now that you say we see your sin remains Maybe being blind is just being blind, if you are honest about it, but if you're blind and you insist, you are not your responses and flicked others with your shortcomings.
Anxiety and fear are appropriate reactions and the times we find ourselves yet, they do not need to be our response to one another.
We need each other in these times. We need to hear and to speak how we are. We need to hear the Resonance of our honest selves and the honest self of another Communities of trust and deep care, such as st. Matthews matter in such times when we together, are sensing feeling, and finding our way negotiating, how to live fully as who we are in a world changed.
Let us in our keeping safe distance, tway continue to be such Community for one another that we may be valuable and Rich resource to those who come into our care in these times.