Possible changes to the Church after the lockdown:
Part One – Heroes will be in our memories but found in the marginalised.
John 12: 12-19
“The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: 15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” 16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. 17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
I’m not sure whether this is desire, wishful thinking or bordering on the prophetic, time will tell. But there is an opportunity during lockdown for the Church to change. Restricting myself to these beautiful verses which will be read and used around the world in a weeks-time as we celebrate Palm Sunday I share these thoughts, hopes and prayers today.
Heroes will be in our memories but found in the marginalised, v12-15.
It was the wrong season. It wasn’t Hanukkah it was Passover. It was the time for the lamb not for palm branches. But when you desperately need a hero, a guru and a celebrity it is amazing what one will do. The story of Judas Maccabaeus is fascinating. The retaking of Jerusalem and the cleansing of the Temple is certainly heroic and inspiring. The heroes of the Church will change. Trying to re-invent one will look and feel strange because a new hero is being birthed right now. During my lifetime I have lived through many heroes of the Church, major Church celebrities have emerged because we have made them so. I enjoyed doing so, bought their books, dwelt on every word and loved it until I discovered they all like me had feet of clay. Some will still want to try and bring Hanukkah out at Passover but it won’t last and it will look ridiculous because the new heroes will be the plethora of frontline workers who every single day with courage went out to work amongst the pandemic. Some of these ordinary people will become famous again like did Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie and interestingly Joseph Lister who in the 1860s promoted sterile surgery and the practice of washing hands before surgery. But other heroic stories will be told of Pastors and Church leaders such as one posted online yesterday by my friend Mike:
A testimony by Dr Julian Urban, a 38-year-old doctor in Lombardy
Up until two weeks ago, my colleagues and I were atheists…I always laughed at my parents when they went to church. Nine days ago, a 75-year-old pastor came to us for medical help. He had grave respiratory problems, but he had a Bible with him and it impressed us that he was reading the Bible to the people who were dying and holding their hands.
We were all tired, discouraged doctors, psychologically and physically spent, and so we found that we were listening to him… We realized that we have reached the limits of what man can do. We need God, and we have begun to ask for his help, when we have a few moments free. We cannot believe that we who were fierce atheists are now seeking for interior peace by asking the Lord to help us…
The 75-year old pastor [has now] died. Despite the fact that in the last three weeks we have had over 120 people die in our unit, and we are all exhausted and feel destroyed, he succeeded, despite his own condition and our own difficulties, to bring us a PEACE that we no longer hoped to find.
The testimony was gathered by Gianni Giardinelli and translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino.
Jesus didn’t ride on a warhorse but an animal representing the common people. He rode from the house of poverty (Bethany) to the oppressed and the marginalised. There will come a day when He will ride a horse of judgment. But the scene is bizarre as all around him signs of Hanukkah is celebrated and yet He rides in saying ‘I’m not that kind of hero’. I’m here as a different king to the one you are used to. The tables have indeed turned. The true king has come and He is found in the marketplace.