Zorro and "Jesus" (credit: Ken Porter)
Zorro made me cry.
Writing those four words seems perfectly ridiculous because Zorro...is a donkey.
As most of you know, last Sunday was Palm Sunday. It was our fourth week of online worship. Like the three previous online worship services, this one was terrific. I am part of a cooperative ministry of five congregations and, unlike when we are worshipping separately on Sundays, the coronavirus (is this officially a swear word yet?) has us congregating together electronically.
Prior to online worship, Zorro the donkey made a guest appearance in our 175-year-old sanctuary every Palm Sunday for the past ten years. And I mean in the sanctuary. The children were always thrilled when “Jesus” came in with Zorro ambling behind him. The adults, on the other hand, always held their collective breaths wondering if this was the year the carpets would need to be cleaned.
All was going along swimmingly during our online Palm Sunday service until Zorro came on the screen. This time, Zorro wasn’t in church. He was walking along a dirt path led by some unseen person. I know it sounds crazy, but let me say it again, Zorro wasn’t in church! And then, I cried. Something about it just wasn’t right.
When all (profanity alert) h*ll broke loose 25 days or so ago, I weirdly thought it was some “great adventure.” How will the church respond? Will it still be relevant? Will it be a speed boat? And the good news is…churches have been doing a great job. Almost all churches have exceeded my expectations, pivoting with incredible strength and grace.
But like all good adventures, I’m ready to head back home. I want some comfort in the familiar. Seeing Zorro up on a screen versus in-person made me realize how much I miss seeing everyone in real life.
I was, I am homesick. I bet you are too.
It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that Easter Sunday is in just a few days. There will be no energetic choir singing the number they’ve practiced for weeks. No children’s time seeing the little ones all dressed up in their Easter finest. No announcing to each other that “Jesus is risen! He is risen, indeed!”
Perhaps this Easter I’ll relate more to those two lonely women in Matthew’s gospel who ran to Jesus’ tomb – I’m sure socially distanced – to seek Him.
There were no crowds. No one wearing Easter hats. No trumpets blaring. But boy, the earth did rock and roll under their feet. They sensed the world shifting. They, like us, were so terrified that they had to be told by an angel:
“There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said.”
And as if to punctuate it, when the women came upon the resurrected Jesus, He also told them, “Do not be afraid…”
So yes, I’m homesick. I look forward to that great day, sometime in the near future, when there will be a fantastic homecoming – a reunion with all our loved ones. But in the meantime, while we’re at home, we as Easter people have work to do. “There is nothing to fear.”
There is still Good News to share, people to check in on, notes to write, cookies to share, masks to be sewn. There are letters of protest to be sent, calls to be made, words to be said to speak truth to power.
Our work continues from home. But it does not take a break. And it most certainly doesn’t stop because we are homesick.
This Sunday, sitting in front of my computer screen, I can hardly wait to shout those words that we will collectively say with people from all over the world – and with more meaning than ever:
“Jesus IS risen, He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!”