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Seeing with Fresh Eyes

by The Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy | Archbishop

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Seeing with Fresh Eyes

by The Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy | Archbishop

Just before first light, it was still dark and drizzling on ANZAC Day 2020. Standing quietly outside our house we juggled an umbrella while lighting a candle. One by one, shadowy figures up and down the street acquired faces as their own candle flames flickered into life. At first, we seemed to be all alone, but neighbours up and down the street were also in their driveways and on balconies a few stories up – isolated, yet powerfully united. It was so still as the Last Post bugle call sounded, and after a deep silence the Reveille, before we all went back inside our own homes, and into our own day.

Ours is one of those streets people use to access the Dawn Service each year. From around 4.30am we hear muffled footsteps as thousands begin to converge on Kings Park.

Not this year.

Apart from a few public figures in Canberra, news reports showed only individuals right across the country standing in driveways, on balconies, in their front windows - keeping watch, silent in candlelight, remembering.

These past weeks of COVID-19 restrictions have completely disrupted our daily routines, stripping us of usual patterns of work, of family and friendship, of church and community. Special places have been off limits, and sacred buildings have been closed to both public worship and private devotion for the first time. Birthdays and weddings have been postponed to a time when more than five or 10 people can join the celebration. With only 10 people able to gather for a funeral, families have been faced with hard choices, including decisions about who will be the chosen mourners. How to show we care? How to make it real? How to remain fully human? How to congratulate or comfort someone in a time without touch?

A particular grief for most Christians in the last weeks of Lent and the first weeks of Easter this year is our inability to break bread together with the Lord. Living sacramentally, living eucharistically without Eucharist, is new and unwelcome territory.

Having been forbidden access to the family table, do we lose sight of the truth that we need each other and are called to mission and ministry together? We who are many are one body for we all share in the one bread, but how is this true when we cannot share?

What are we seeing with fresh eyes this Easter? What are we finding out about ourselves as Christ’s living body in this strange time of deprivation that will we want to take into the post pandemic world? How do we keep focused and thankful and determined that it will not just be business as usual? How can our faith communities maintain the sense of purpose and connection that has been a hallmark of these difficult weeks? What has God been doing with us as we have prayed in hope and trust for strength and healing? How has the disturbing Holy Spirit been shaking us awake, fashioning all of us for what is and what will be?

The road ahead will be no easier than the Emmaus road of Luke 24, but just as was the case for the two disciples on that road, the Lord walks with us, explains the scriptures to us, and is known to us in the breaking of the bread. Our hearts burn within us, we glimpse him, yet he vanishes from our sight. As St Teresa of Avila reminds us: ‘Christ has no body now, but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks with compassion on the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.’ This is a truth we’ve known, but now, please God, we will know it more humbly than before, ready and willing to welcome companions and friends on the way.

In the words of a recent prayer – Lord, the doors of our church are locked. We are not able to gather around your table; we are not able to share your peace. We are anxious and afraid.

Nevertheless, we lift up our hearts, we join with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven as we proclaim you holy and receive you into our hearts by faith.

Strengthen our love for you. Give us patience and hope and help us work together with all your faithful people, that we may restore health and wholeness to one another and to all your creation.

Through Christ our Saviour, Amen.

Published in May Messenger 2020


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