Dear friends in Christ,
When the pandemic first hit, I had imagined the church coming together again this Sunday. I had hoped for restrictions to be lifted, the virus slowed way down, and the opportunity to gather again to celebrate Holy Communion. I imagined we would be together again on this Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, for a service of healing, not all that different than what takes place every year on the Festival of St. Luke, lifting the needs of individuals and communities and nations before God in prayer and giving people the opportunity to receive laying on of hands and anointing. God knows we need it. Individually and collectively, we’ve been through a time and continue to be going through a time of deep loss with people infected by or dying from this dreaded virus, losing their jobs, waiting for relief, feeling the loneliness of social isolation and more. We need the healing touch that only the Good Shepherd can provide.
It is the first Sunday in May and we are still confined to our homes and are not able to come together. Still, we wait. While we wait, though, we have the gift of small groups via Zoom for those who can participate, orders for daily prayer and the gift of connecting with one another through letters, email, Facebook and phone calls. And we have, again, the Sunday bulletin with scripture and the video containing music, Gospel, children’s Word, and Sermon.
Today’s service evokes a spirit of healing prayer – the opening dialogue, simple kyrie, prayers of the people and a prayer you may use echoing the prayers used for the laying on of hand and anointing.
On this Easter Sunday we rejoice that we’ve got a good shepherd in Christ who walks who leads us even when we walk through dark valleys.
The Good Shepherd is not unacquainted with pain or loneliness or suffering. Jesus has been there and Jesus is there. The lesson today from 1 Peter says: “By his wounds you are healed.” I don’t know about you, but I can trust a Savior who knows what it means to be human and knows what it means to suffer. Just so, the Risen Christ bears the wounds of the crucifixion for there in these marks we know the power of God’s love with us and for us, the source of our healing.
Christ is risen! Alleluia!