As all churches consider what next looks like after the pandemic, they need to consider what is compelling them forward.
As we continue to reflect on the Resurrection narrative, I am reminded of the fascinating story from Luke’s Gospel. Two of Jesus’ followers were traveling to Emmaus when a stranger encountered them on the road.
Unlike most inquisitive and nosy people, the stranger asked the two men what they were discussing. Many, if not most, of us, would politely tell this stranger to mind his business. Instead, the two men bewilderingly retold the story of Jesus of Nazareth, who was their teacher, that had been crucified in Jerusalem.
In their grief, they told of their disappointment that Jesus' promises were not fulfilled and that they were hesitant to believe the news that he had resurrected from the dead.
When they arrived at Emmaus, they invited the stranger in for a meal. Upon breaking bread and blessing it, the two men recognized the stranger as Jesus, who disappeared in front of their eyes.
Like His earliest followers who experienced his arrest, torture, and death, we too feel like we are coming through a very traumatizing experience. Spiritually, economically, socially, politically, and theologically, this last year has pushed, pulled, stretched, and broken most of us in so many different ways.
As we journey day-to-day, it is easy to miss out on the stranger in our midst in the disillusion of this experience. Whether we sense His presence or not, Jesus is among us experiencing the vast human experience of this pandemic.
Can you sense His presence? Can we feel His presence as a faith community?
Spiritual tenacity is not the ability to speak volumes about all the nuanced theological understandings of God’s existence. It is not proving our religious worth through incredible feats of holiness.
Instead, as we see through the story of the road to Emmaus, spiritual resilience is a willingness to engage in conversations about what we are experiencing, what we are learning from God and even the faint hope of our heart that something good is on the other side.
Spiritual resilience is about persistence to face this pandemic and whatever comes next with the faith as small as a mustard seed that God is and will do mighty things in and through us.
As we face whatever comes next, know that it begins with spiritual resilience together.