We are living in troubling times.
A BBC report last week said that more people have died in London from Corona Virus than during the Blitz. The economy appears to be tanking and levels of anxiety are rising over the lifting of the lock down however much we want to get out and hug our friends and family.
Jesus says in the portion of scripture that is set out for this Sunday (John 14 1-14) says ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ and later in this same passage ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’ This is saying that has brought huge comfort to Christians over the ages yet we are in a new times and I wonder how we interpret ‘do not let your hearts be troubled’ in the time of Corona?
One way of looking at the anxiety might be to look at what is mourned. What is troubling the heart? My sense is that a lot of the grief in lock down is the loss of the familiar. We no longer have the patterns and routines of our lives and although we can get used to the new, we still miss the old. The temptation when lock down is finally lifted will be to rush back to the old normal whether it was good for us (and the planet) or not.
What we might be missing is the chance to stay in the uncertainty and vulnerability of our different world. It is not an easy place to be. It takes courage to sit with that which is unfamiliar and challenges a need for order and certainty. It requires a mind-set that says ‘maybe’ or ‘what if’ or ‘I wonder? That takes time to cultivate and practice to stay there.
Perhaps those of us who were certain in the old normal can learn from those who live with uncertainty and vulnerability in their everyday lives. These might be those at the margins of our society without the well paid jobs and pensions, without security and without health? These are the people Jesus hung out with after all.
At a time when there is more space because the old life is on hold might this be when we might have the courage to stop, to say ‘don’t let our hearts be troubled’ and what might we be called to do and be in the new normal.
So in the spirit of vulnerability there are no answers here just a sense that now, when there is more space because the old life is on hold, we might have the courage to stop, to listen to Jesus saying ‘don’t let our hearts be troubled,’ remember that he is the way and to ask what might we be called to do and be in the new normal.